Evidence found of oysters syncing valve behavior with lunar cycle

January 9, 2019 by Bob Yirka, Phys.org report
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

A team of researchers from the University of Bordeaux and CNRS, EPOC, UMR has found evidence that suggests oysters sync their valve behavior with the lunar cycle. In their paper published in the journal Biology Letters, the group describes their study of oysters in the wild over three and a half lunar cycles and what they observed.

It is commonly known that humans and other animals have a , which is tied closely to the daytime/nighttime cycle of the sun. Other creatures have also been found to have closely associated with the ocean's tides. In this new effort, the researchers have found that at least some oysters may have a type of .

To better understand the impact of the moon and its phases on oysters, the team captured 12 Pacific oysters off the coast of France and attached electrodes to them. They returned the oysters to the sea, where they were monitored for behaviors that could be linked to the behavior of the moon.

In comparing data from the monitors with astronomical charts, the researchers found that the oysters opened their valves at different times depending on the phase of the moon. They found that the valves were most open during the build-up to and during a new moon. In contrast, the valves were less open during the time when the moon was entering its first quarter and full phases. More specifically, they found that the mollusks were opening their valves more during times when it was darker at night. They suggest their findings indicate that oysters can somehow sense moonlight.

They also suggest that over time, the sensing ability of the oysters may have led to the development of an internal clock based on the phases of the moon—thus, an would be less likely to open during the time when the would normally cast the greatest amount of light, regardless of whether that light actually reached them. Clouds or other coverings could have an impact on how much light reaches the oysters.

The researchers suggest further that an internal lunar clock could be beneficial to oysters because it would be tied to the times when food was most plentiful due to low light levels.

Explore further: Oyster aquaculture limits disease in wild oyster populations

More information: Moonlight cycles synchronize oyster behaviour, Biology Letters (2019). royalsocietypublishing.org/jou … .1098/rsbl.2018.0299

Related Stories

Oyster aquaculture limits disease in wild oyster populations

December 16, 2018

A fisheries researcher at the University of Rhode Island has found that oyster aquaculture operations can limit the spread of disease among wild populations of oysters. The findings are contrary to long-held beliefs that ...

Oysters: one animal, two glues

May 7, 2018

Oysters build extensive reef communities by cementing to one another early in their lives. Scientists have known they secrete an adhesive for this purpose, but new research shows the glue they make as babies and juveniles ...

Scientists finger culprits decimating France's oysters

October 11, 2018

A two-pronged attack by a virus and bacteria is responsible for decimating France's 450-million euro ($520 million) oyster industry, scientists said Thursday, potentially solving a decade-long mystery.

Climate change a threat to even the most tolerant oysters

October 27, 2018

Climate change-associated severe weather events may cause flooding that threatens the survival of the Olympia oyster, new research suggests. The findings will be presented today at the American Physiological Society's (APS) ...

Recommended for you

EPA adviser is promoting harmful ideas, scientists say

March 22, 2019

The Trump administration's reliance on industry-funded environmental specialists is again coming under fire, this time by researchers who say that Louis Anthony "Tony" Cox Jr., who leads a key Environmental Protection Agency ...

The taming of the light screw

March 22, 2019

DESY and MPSD scientists have created high-order harmonics from solids with controlled polarization states, taking advantage of both crystal symmetry and attosecond electronic dynamics. The newly demonstrated technique might ...

Male fish can thank genes for colourful looks

March 22, 2019

Striking traits seen only in males of some species – such as colourful peacock feathers or butterfly wings – are partly explained by gene behaviour, research suggests.

Coffee-based colloids for direct solar absorption

March 22, 2019

Solar energy is one of the most promising resources to help reduce fossil fuel consumption and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions to power a sustainable future. Devices presently in use to convert solar energy into thermal ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.