Locomotor activity rhythm of <i>Talitrus saltator</i> (Crustacea, Amphipoda) on a progradating sandy beach

<p>In the Maremma Natural Park (Grosseto, Italy), the Collelungo beach exhibits a clear morphodynamics gradient, resulting in a severe erosion to a gradual accretion along the shoreline. Here, three sub-populations of the sandhopper <i>Talitrus saltator</i> (Montagu) (Crustacea, Amphipoda) were studied to highlight eventual intra- and inter-population variation of the endogenous locomotor rhythm. Individual activity recordings were carried out for 21 days in constant darkness and controlled temperature and humidity conditions. The variation of the free-running period was analysed at individual and sub-population levels, and the dependence on intrinsic (individual features) and extrinsic (habitat of origin and season) factors was analysed. A seasonal variation was highlighted, related to the seasonal spontaneous activity of the species. In summer and autumn, a significant correlation between the behavioural variation in the sub-populations (period and definition of the period) and beach physical parameters (slope and width) defined the dependence of the behavioural gradient on the environmental gradient. The observed relationship may represent an adaptation to the local coastline dynamics, suggesting the importance of a plastic behaviour as adaptive response to a variable environment.</p>