The kinematic patterns of defense turning behavior in freely behaving specimens of the crayfish Procambarus clarkii were investigated with the aid of a video-analysis system. Movements of the body and all pereiopods, except the chelipeds, were analyzed. Because this behavior approximates to a rotation in place, this analysis extends previous studies on straight and curve walking in crustaceans. Specimens of P. clarkii responded to a tactile stimulus on a walking leg by turning accurately to face the source of the stimulation. Angular velocity profiles of the movement of the animal's carapace suggest that defense turn responses are executed in two phases: an initial stereotyped phase, in which the body twists on its legs and undergoes a rapid angular acceleration, followed by a more erratic phase of generally decreasing angular velocity that leads to the final orientation. Comparisons of contralateral members of each pair of legs reveal that defense turns are affected by changes in step geometry, rather than by changes in the timing parameters of leg motion, although inner legs 3 and 4 tend to take more steps than their outer counterparts during the course of a response. During the initial phase, outer legs 3 and 4 exhibit larger stance amplitudes than their inner partners, and all the outer legs produce larger stance amplitudes than their inner counterparts during the second stage of the response. Also, the net vectors of the initial stances, particularly, are angled with respect to the body, with the power strokes of the inner legs produced during promotion and those of the outer legs produced during remotion. Unlike straight and curve walking in the crayfish, there is no discernible pattern of contralateral leg coordination during defense turns. Similarities and differences between defense turns and curve walking are discussed. It is apparent that rotation in place, as in defense turns, is not a simple variation on straight or curve walking but a distinct locomotor pattern.

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