In insects, the circadian system is responsible for imposing daily rhythmicity on a variety of processes, including locomotor activity, stridulation, oviposition, hatching, pupation and pupal eclosion, pheromone release, retinal sensitivity to light, and daily cuticle growth. This list is by no means exhaustive. It is generally accepted that the functional importance of this control is to restrict processes that are best undertaken at a particular phase of the environmental cycle to a particular time of day. It has also been suggested that a secondary role of the circadian system is to provide for internal temporal organization, coordinating the timing of various processes within the individual.
In addition to its role in generating daily rhythms, the cir-cadian clock has been shown to be involved in photoperiodic time measurement for seasonal regulation of reproduction, development, and diapause in many insects. In honey bees (Apis mellifera), it is also involved in time measurement necessary for time-compensated sun orientation and in Zeitgedachtnis, which is the ability to return at the appropriate time to a food source that is available only at particular times of day. Thus the circadian system functions as a biological clock, capable of providing the individual with information on the time of day and with the ability to measure lapse of time.
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