Behavior patterns of Aplysia californica in its natural environment

Irving Kupfermann, Thomas J. Carew

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aplysia are normally exposed to great variations of water temperature, wave shock, food abundance, and duration of exposure to air. The behavior of A. in the field was very similar to that of A. in the laboratory, although there were some differences. The differences, however, appeared to be largely accounted for by the greater environmental variety in the field compared to laboratory environments. Systematic observations were made on four classes of behavior: feeding behavior, sexual behavior, locomotion, and defensive behavior. Feeding was the most frequent behavior observed. Although animals fed during a large proportion of the day, there were periods during which they would not eat, either after a normal meal, or after a meal which was fed to them by the experimenter. Animals showed definite food preferences, but large animals appeared to exhibit relatively less selectivity. Sexual behavior (copulation and egg laying) was observed to occur at a special location where the same animals remained over a period of a week or longer. During exposure to air in the intertidal zone, animals were inactive, but otherwise they locomoted over a distance of 10 m or more per day. Animals were typically found to be aggregated into groups. Defensive withdrawal occurred very infrequently and spontaneous inking behavior was never observed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)317-337
Number of pages21
JournalBehavioral Biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Nov 1974

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Environmental Science
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


Dive into the research topics of 'Behavior patterns of Aplysia californica in its natural environment'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this