Examining refuge location mechanisms in intertidal snails using artificial life simulation techniques
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Volume: 3630 LNAI
High intertidal rocky shores are extremely stressful habitats. Marine snails in these habitats experience highly desiccating conditions, and they locate refuges such as crevices and form dense aggregations of individuals to reduce the effects of desiccation. This study investigates the mechanisms of refuge location in Melarhaphe neritoides using a simple set of rules to mimic the behaviour of each individual snail as a computer simulation. Chance interactions with other individuals, other individuals' trails and the crevices which form part of the virtual environment result in a mainly self-organised pattern of aggregations and crevice occupation which match real patterns obtained in laboratory experiments. Simulations where the following of trails is removed result in a poorer match to the experimental data, indicating the importance of trail-following in establishing these distribution patterns. The study shows that artificial life based models are a potentially useful tool in the investigation of rocky shore systems. © Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2005.
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Authors: Stafford, R. and Davies, M.S.