Behavioral fractality in marine copepods: endogenous rhythms versus exogenous stressors

Laurent Seuront

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    10 Citations (Scopus)


    The presence of endogenous rhythms in the swimming behavior of five common species of copepods (i.e. minute marine crustaceans) was investigated through comparisons of the scaling properties of their three-dimensional trajectories and cumulative probability distribution functions of move lengths recorded during the day and at night. Beside clear inter-specific differences in their behavioral scaling properties, the five species exhibited an increase in path tortuosity at night, consistent with an increase in food foraging activity. Given the absence of food under all experimental conditions, this suggests the presence of an endogenous swimming rhythm consistent with the widely reported pattern of ascent at dusk resulting in copepods entering the food-rich surface layer at night. The impact of the stress exerted on swimming behavior by changes in the light regime (i.e. light and dark conditions respectively experienced at night and during the day) and the related copepod behavioral adaptivity was also investigated. The low and high fractal dimensions respectively observed during daytime in the dark and during night-time under conditions of simulated daytime indicate that these organisms have the ability to adjust the complexity of their swimming path depending on exogenous factors, independent of their actual endogenous rhythms. The scaling exponents of the cumulative probability distribution function of move lengths exhibit a significant decrease during daylight hours under simulated night-time conditions and during the night under simulated daytime conditions, suggesting an increase in the stress levels experienced by the five species considered. It is finally shown that the stress exerted on endogenous behavioral diel variability by exogenous cues has a species-specific effect on copepods.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)250-256
    Number of pages7
    JournalPhysica A-Statistical Mechanics and Its Applications
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2011


    • Behavior
    • Endogenous rhythms
    • Exogenous stressors
    • Foraging
    • Scaling
    • Stress
    • Zooplankton


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