Contact chemosensory cues in egg bundles elicit male-male agonistic conflicts in the squid Loligo pealeii. Academic Article uri icon


  • Male Loligo pealeii engage in frequent agonistic bouts to gain access to female mates while aggregated at communal egg beds. Male squids are attracted to eggs in the field and in the laboratory. It was recently demonstrated that visual detection followed by physical contact with egg capsules elicited male-male aggression. We tested specific physical and chemical features of the egg capsules that may cause this strong behavioral reaction. Male squids were presented with either natural or artificial egg stimuli and scored for four selected behaviors (egg touch, egg blowing, forward-lunge grab, and fin-beating), the last two of which are highly aggressive behaviors. First, squids were presented with natural eggs versus eggs sealed in agarose-coated tubes (ESACT), which eliminated both tactile and chemical stimuli. Second, males were presented with natural eggs versus eggs sealed in agarose coated tubes containing C18 Sep-Pak-purified extracts (TCPE) from squid egg capsules, which provided chemical cues from natural eggs without the physical stimulus of the egg capsules. Third, natural eggs versus heat-denatured eggs were tested to determine whether the active factor in natural eggs is heat-labile. Squids responded aggressively when contacting natural eggs and TCPE, whereas squids did not respond after touching ESACT or denatured eggs. These results suggest that aggressive behavior is elicited by a heat-labile factor that is embedded within squid egg capsules. This chemosensory cue appears to be a contact pheromone that stimulates the agonistic interactions that characterize the mating behavior of migratory squids on inshore spawning grounds.

publication date

  • March 2003