Size scaling of whole-body metabolic activity in the noble crayfish (Astacus astacus) estimated from measurements on a single leg


Tatjana Simčič, Department of Freshwater and Terrestrial Ecosystems Research, National Institute of Biology, Večna pot 111, SI-1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia. E-mail:


1. Use of electron transport system (ETS) activity in a single leg for estimating whole-body ETS activity was explored in the noble crayfish Astacus astacus. Oxygen consumption and ETS activity of the whole body and of a walking leg were measured in different-sized animals at 10 °C to compare the size scaling of oxygen consumption, whole-body ETS activity and the ratio of whole-body ETS activity to oxygen consumption (ETS/R).

2. Electron transport system activity of a leg and the ratio of ETS activity of a whole crayfish to that of a leg were correlated with wet mass of animals. Therefore, metabolic potential in whole noble crayfish can be estimated on the basis of the measured ETS activity in a single leg and crayfish mass. This approach provides a valuable tool for determining metabolic characteristics of crayfish without killing them.

3. Mass-specific oxygen consumption decreased with increasing wet mass, while ETS activity of whole crayfish showed no significant correlation with wet mass. Both oxygen consumption and ETS activity correlated significantly with protein mass.

4. The increase in ETS/R with increasing wet mass of the noble crayfish indicates that small organisms exploit a greater proportion of their metabolic potential for standard metabolism than larger ones. This is the first report on ETS/R in crayfish.