In the darkness of the polar night, scallops keep on a steady rhythm
AuthorTran, Damien; Sow, Mohamedou; Camus, Lionel; Ciret, Pierre; Berge, Jørgen; Massabuau, Jean-Charles
Although the prevailing paradigm has held that the polar night is a period of biological quiescence, recent studies have detected noticeable activity levels in marine organisms. In this study, we investigated the circadian rhythm of the scallop Chlamys islandica by continuously recording the animal’s behaviour over 3 years in the Arctic (Svalbard). Our results showed that a circadian rhythm persists throughout the polar night and lasts for at least 4 months. Based on observations across three polar nights, we showed that the robustness and synchronicity of the rhythm depends on the angle of the sun below the horizon. The weakest rhythm occurred at the onset of the polar night during the nautical twilight. Surprisingly, the circadian behaviour began to recover during the darkest part of the polar night. Because active rhythms optimize the fitness of an organism, our study brings out that the scallops C. islandica remain active even during the polar night.