By BUMP Faculty and Students


Jaimie L. Orlosk, Jenna M. Walker, Ariel L. Morrison & Jelle Atema (2011): Conditioning the crab Carcinus maenas against instinctive light avoidance, Marine and Freshwater Behaviour and Physiology, 44:6, 375-381

The research was conducted during the CAS BI 563, Sensory Biology Fall 2009 Marine Semester class of the Boston University Marine Program.


Carcinus maenas is an invasive species found in Northern American waters overtaking the less adaptable species and responding to various forms of conditioning. In this study, we conditioned C. maenas to reverse its innate light avoidance behavior. Within 6 days of testing, 21 out of 30 crabs were successfully trained to enter a beam of light to receive food, although their instincts are to seek shelter from predators in dark areas. Some took as little as 2 days to reverse their light aversion. They also responded faster once trained. Larger crabs had faster response times than smaller ones, while there was no difference between sexes. The conditioned response lasted for at least 4 days without reinforcement. The rapid learning abilities observed during this experiment may help to explain the pervasive success of C. maenas as an invasive species.


Adam M. Reitzel, James C. Sullivan, Briana K. Brown, Diana W. Chin, Emily K. Cira, Sara K. Edquist, Brandon M. Genco, Oliver C. Joseph, Christian A. Kaufman, Kathryn Kovitvongsa, Martha M. Munoz, Tiffany L. Negri, Jonathan R. Taffel, Robert T. Zuehlke, and John R. Finnerty (2007). Ecological and Developmental Dynamics of a Host-Parasite System Involving a Sea Anemone and Two Ctenophores. J. Parasitology, 93(6): 1392-1402.

Authored as a group from a project during BI 547: Marine Invertebrates, in the Fall 2006 Marine Semester.