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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Learning in Stomatopod Crustaceans

  • Author(s): Cronin, Thomas W.
  • Caldwell, Roy L.
  • Marshall, Justin
  • et al.

The stomatopod crustaceans, or mantis shrimps, are marine predators that stalk or ambush prey and that have complex intraspecific communication behavior. Their active lifestyles, means of predation, and intricate displays all require unusual flexibility in interacting with the world around them, implying a well-developed ability to learn. Stomatopods have highly evolved sensory systems, including some of the most specialized visual systems known for any animal group. Some species have been demonstrated to learn how to recognize and use novel, artificial burrows, while others are known to learn how to identify novel prey species and handle them for effective predation. Stomatopods learn the identities of individual competitors and mates, using both chemical and visual cues. Furthermore, stomatopods can be trained for psychophysical examination of their sensory abilities, including demonstration of color and polarization vision. These flexible and intelligent invertebrates continue to be attractive subjects for basic research on learning in animals with relatively simple nervous systems.

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