For anhydrobiotic metazoans the rate of desiccation is an important factor influencing the probability of survival in a dry anhydrobiotic state. Formation of animal aggregations, in which the exposed body surface area of individual animals is reduced, represents one way to reduce the rate of evaporation. Such aggregations have earlier been documented in e.g., nematodes. We experimentally evaluate the effect of aggregation size (number of animals in a group of desiccating animals) on anhydrobiotic survival in the eutardigrade Richtersius coronifer. The experiment shows that aggregation provides a clear improvement on anhydrobiotic survival. The most likely explanation for this is that aggregated animals were exposed to a lower rate of desiccation. Although the empirical evidence of aggregation in tardigrades is scarce, our study suggests that aggregation could potentially be an important survival factor for tardigrades living in environments characterized by periods of rapid desiccation.
|Tidskrift||Journal of experimental zoology. Part A, Comparative experimental biology|
|Status||Publicerad - 2004|
- Zoologi (10608)