American lobsters produce carapace vibrations, which also lead to waterborne acoustic signals, by simultaneously contracting the antagonistic remotor and promotor muscles located at the base of the second antenna. These vibrations have a mean frequency of 183.1 Hz (range 87–261 Hz), range in duration from 68 to 1720 ms (mean 277.1 ms) and lead to waterborne sounds of similar frequencies. Lobsters most often produce these signals using only one pair of muscles at a time and alternate between the muscles of the left and right antennae when making a series of vibrations. Occasionally, they vibrate their carapace by simultaneously contracting both sets of muscles. While the remotor muscle is required for producing carapace vibrations, the promotor appears to play a secondary role. Electrical stimulation of the remotor, but not the promotor, results in the production of vibrations, while lesions of the remotor, but not promotor, eliminate the ability of lobsters to vibrate their carapace. Lobsters of all sizes and both sexes produce these signals when startled, grasped or threatened. However, at this time, the behavioral significance of vibration and/or sound production by American lobsters is not known.
Jackson Estuarine Laboratory, Biological Sciences
Journal of Experimental Biology
The Company of Biologists Ltd
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Henninger, H. P. and W. H. Watson III. 2005. Mechanisms underlying the production of carapace vibrations and associated waterborne sounds in the American lobster, Homarus americanus. J. Exp. Biol. 208: 3421-3429. https://doi.org/10.1242/jeb.01771
© 2005 by Company of Biologists