Supplementary Material for: Electrical Potential of Leaping Eels

2017-08-08T14:13:38Z (GMT) by Catania K.C.

When approached by a large, partially submerged conductor, electric eels (Electrophorus electricus) will often defend themselves by leaping from the water to directly shock the threat. Presumably, the conductor is interpreted as an approaching terrestrial or semiaquatic animal. In the course of this defensive behavior, eels first make direct contact with their lower jaw and then rapidly emerge from the water, ascending the conductor while discharging high-voltage volleys. In this study, the equivalent circuit that develops during this behavior was proposed and investigated. First, the electromotive force and internal resistance of four electric eels were determined. These values were then used to estimate the resistance of the water volume between the eel and the conductor by making direct measurements of current with the eel and water in the circuit. The resistance of the return path from the eel's lower jaw to the main body of water was then determined, based on voltage recordings, for each electric eel at the height of the defensive leap. Finally, the addition of a hypothetical target for the leaping defense was considered as part of the circuit. The results suggest the defensive behavior efficiently directs electrical current through the threat, producing an aversive and deterring experience by activating afferents in potential predators.