Habituation of the defensive-withdrawal reflex in Aplysia californica was studied in the animal's natural environment. Aplysia are exposed to a variety of tactile environments ranging from calm, protected bays to turbulent channels and tide pools. Animals found in a calm environment showed a brisk withdrawal reflex which habituated with a time course comparable to controlled laboratory studies. By contrast, animals in a turbulent environment showed a very weak reflex response which habituated significantly faster than the calm-environment animals. Animals in a turbulent environment, compared to calm-environment animals, also had a much higher threshold for another defensive response-the inking reflex. The data suggest that different tactile environments in which Aplysia live can significantly influence the animal's behavioral responsiveness, and that habituation is a behavioral modification that normally occurs in the life of Aplysia.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- General Environmental Science
- General Earth and Planetary Sciences