New paper: Response and habituation of mussels to repeated sound exposures

We just published a new paper ‘Responsiveness and habituation to repeated sound exposures and pulse trains in blue mussels‘ and it’s open access (link)! The paper is authored by Emily Booms, Rob Witbaard, Hans Slabbekoorn and myself.

Mussels live in an almost fixed location and are therefore likely to be exposed to the same sound repeatedly. They have been shown to close their valves upon sound exposure, which may disturb their filter feeding behaviour. It may be that the their response changes over repeated sound exposures.

To study this, we equipped mussels with a valve gape monitor and repeatedly exposed them to sound (or a silent control). Initially, the mussels responded to the sound very clearly, but this decayed over repeated exposures. Then, we exposed the mussels to a novel sound to test whether the decay in responsiveness could be explained by habituation. See the paper for those results.

This experiment took place during the first COVID-19 lockdown, and was therefore performed at the house of one of the authors. The mussels were kept in a nearby restaurant with a salt water aquarium.