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J Insect Physiol. 2001 Jan 1;47(1):11-18.

Influence of temperature on the hygropreference of the Collembolan, Cryptopygus antarcticus, and the mite, Alaskozetes antarcticus from the maritime Antarctic.

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School of Biosciences, The University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, B15 2TT, Birmingham, UK


The hygropreference of adult Cryptopygus antarcticus and Alaskozetes antarcticus was investigated over 2 h at 5, 10 and 20 degrees C, along humidity gradients (9-98% RH) established by means of different salt solutions. Two chamber arrangements were employed, linear and grid, to determine any influence of thigmotactic behaviour on distribution within the RH gradient. The humidity preference of both species varied with temperature. At 5 and 10 degrees C, C. antarcticus distributed homogeneously showing no clear RH preference. At 20 degrees C, this species preferred the highest humidity (98% RH). A. antarcticus demonstrated a preference for the lowest humidity (9% RH) at 5 degrees C, but at 10 degrees C its distribution differed between the two arena types. At 20 degrees C, A. antarcticus showed no clear humidity preference. Assays to control for experimental asymmetries along the gradient; thigmotactic behaviour; and aggregative behaviour exclude these factors as explanations for the observed results. The mean initial water content of samples did not differ significantly between temperature regimes (C. antarcticus: 68.6, 71.1 and 74.3%; A. antarcticus: 68.1, 70.1 and 68.6% at 5, 10 and 20 degrees C respectively), but the level of water loss increased significantly with temperature. The influence of desiccation tolerance and the ecological significance of the observed humidity preferences are discussed.

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