The opisthobranch Melibe leonina both swims and crawls. Elective response between these two modes makes M. leonina a model organism for studies of gastropod locomotion. The effect of activity on the metabolic rate of M. leonina was investigated in three phases: (1) oxygen consumption rates were measured during alert, crawling, and swimming states; (2) anaerobic energy output was investigated by measuring whole-body levels of anaerobic enzymes; and (3) estimates of net cost of transport (COTnet) for swimming and crawling were established. Melibe leonina exhibited a two-fold increase in oxygen consumption between alert (234 µL 02 h-1 for a 10 g animal) and crawling (477 µL 02 h-1) states, and a six-fold increase in oxygen consumption between alert and swimming (1380 µL 02 h-1)states. Opine dehydrogenases were not detected in whole body tissue and only low levels of lactate dehydrogenase (0.23 IU g wet tissue-1 min-1) were found. This indicates that both swimming and crawling are supported aerobically in M. leonina. Swimming COTnet (6 mL 02 kg-1 m-1) and crawling COTnet (5 mL 02 kg-1 m-1) were similar to each other. However, when these values were compared to those of other swimming and crawling invertebrates, it was found that M. leonina displayed the typically high cost of gastropod crawling but swimming COT fell above the 95% confidence interval for energy costs associated with invertebrate swimming.
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Published by the California Malacozoological Society, Berkeley, CA
Caldwell, Sandra L. and Donovan, Deborah A., "Energetics of Swimming and Crawling in the Lion Nudibranch, Melibe leonina" (2003). Biology. 40.
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