Hydrostatic pressure is the only one of a range of environmental parameters (water temperature, salinity, light availability, and so on) that increases in proportion with depth. Pressure tolerance is therefore essential to understand the foundation of populations and current diversity of faunal compositions at various depths. In the present study, we used a newly developed pressure chamber system to examine changes in larval activity of the salt-lake crustacean, Artemia franciscana, in response to a range of hydrostatic pressures. We showed that A. franciscana larvae were able to survive for a short period at pressures of ≤ 60 MPa (approximately equal to the pressure of 6000 m deep). At a pressure of > 20 MPa, larval motor ability was suppressed, but not lost. Meanwhile, at a pressure of > 40 MPa, some of the larval motor ability was lost without recovery after decompression. For all experiments, discordance of movement and timing between right and left appendages, was observed at pressures of > 20 MPa. Our results indicate that the limit of pressure for sustaining active behavior of A. franciscana larvae is ∼20 MPa, whereas the limit of pressure for survival is within the range 30–60 MPa. Thus, members of the genus Artemia possess the ability to resist a higher range of pressures than their natural habitat depth. Our findings demonstrated an example of an organism capable of invading deeper environment in terms of physical pressure tolerance, and indicate the need and importance of pressure study as an experimental method.
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Vol. 30 • No. 11