Detection of substrate-associated odour cues versus prey-associated cues by the oral veil in <i>Tritonia diomedea</i>

<p>Our goal was to test two potential sensory roles for the oral veil in the nudibranch <i>Tritonia diomedea</i> (now synonymous with <i>T. tetraquetra</i>). First, we hypothesized this cephalic sensory organ could detect substrate-associated odours left behind by an odour plume flowing across sediment. In two experiments in a laboratory flow tank, however, <i>T. diomedea</i> did not show consistent crawling headings in response to either prey or predator odours associated with sediment substrate. In one of the experiments, the slugs did significantly decrease crawling speed in response to prey odours. Although slugs could thus detect at least some substrate-associated odours, these results suggest such cues are not used for navigation. We next considered the oral veil’s potential role in behaviours requiring responses to nearby cues. Our observations of animals before and after denervation of the oral veil suggest that, unsurprisingly, predatory bite-strikes do rely on sensory input from the oral veil. Overall, these data, combined with the results of earlier studies, are consistent with the oral veil detecting cues primarily from nearby stimuli (including both chemical and mechanical modalities), while having little or no role in detecting and responding to odour cues originating from distant sources used for navigation behaviour.</p>