Navigation in darkness: How the marine midge (Pontomyia oceana) locates hard substrates above the water level to lay eggs

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Date: Jan. 25, 2021
From: PLoS ONE(Vol. 16, Issue 1)
Publisher: Public Library of Science
Document Type: Report
Length: 4,863 words
Lexile Measure: 1340L

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Abstract :

Finding suitable habitats for specific functions such as breeding provides examples of key biotic adaptation. The adult marine midge Pontomyia oceana requires an extremely specific habitat, i.e., hard substrates above water in shallow water, to deposit fertilized eggs. We investigated how these sea surface-skimming insects accomplished this with a stringent time constraint of 1-2 h of the adult life span in the evenings. We observed that in artificial containers, midges aggregated at bright spots only if the light was not in the direction of the sea. This behavior could potentially attract midges toward the shore and away from the open water. Experiments were performed in the intertidal zone in southern Taiwan to test three hypotheses explaining such behavior: gradients of temperature and CO.sub.2, and soundscape. No differences were observed in moving directions or aggregation of midges under artificial temperature and CO.sub.2 gradients. However, midges preferred sounds at 75 Hz compared with other frequencies (all [less than or equal to]300 Hz) as observed in a field experiment involving floating traps with loudspeakers. Moreover, when background noise was experimentally masked using white noise of all frequencies, midges were significantly more likely to aggregate at bright spots in the direction of the sea than in the absence of white noise. These results establish that sound is used by midges to navigate in dark seas and move toward the shore where exposed hard substrates are in abundance. Marine mammals present well-known cases of sound pollution at sea; here the finding in the insignificant marine midge is just the harbinger of the potential effects noise at shore may have to affect critical reproductive stages of marine organisms.

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A649640728