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Comparative studies on the social behaviour of the desert isopod Hemilepistus reaumuri and of a Porcellio species

Please always quote using this URN: urn:nbn:de:bvb:20-opus-30846
  • Behavioural adaptations have made the desert isopod Hemilepistus reaumuri the most successful herbivore and detritivore of the macrofauna of many arid areas in North Africa and Asia Minor. For survival and reproduction Hemilepistus is dependent on burrows. New burrows can only be dug during spring. With the time-consuming digging of a burrow, Hemilepistus has only made the first step towards solving its ecological problems. The burrows are vital and have to be continuously defended against competitors. This requirement is met by co-operation ofBehavioural adaptations have made the desert isopod Hemilepistus reaumuri the most successful herbivore and detritivore of the macrofauna of many arid areas in North Africa and Asia Minor. For survival and reproduction Hemilepistus is dependent on burrows. New burrows can only be dug during spring. With the time-consuming digging of a burrow, Hemilepistus has only made the first step towards solving its ecological problems. The burrows are vital and have to be continuously defended against competitors. This requirement is met by co-operation of individuals within the framework of a highly developed social behaviour. In spring adults form monogamous pairs in which partners recognize each other individually and later form, with their progeny, strictly closed family communities. Hemilepistus is compared with a Porcellio' sp. which has developed, convergently, a social behaviour which resembles that of Hemilepistus in many respects, but differs essentially in some aspects, partly reflecting differences in ecological requirements. This and a few other Porcellio species demonstrate some possible steps in the evolution of the social behaviour of Hemilepistus. The female Hemilepistus is-in contrast to Porcellio sp. - semelparous and the selective advantages of monogamy in its environment are not difficult to recognize. This chapter discusses how this mating system could have evolved and especially why monogamous behaviour is also the best method for the Hemilepistus male to maximize its reproductive success. The cohesion of pairs and of family communities in Hemilepistus is based on a highly developed chemical communication system. Individual- and family-specific badges owe their specificity to genetically determined discriminating substances. The nature of the badges raises a series of questions: e.g. since alien badges release aggression, how do parents avoid cannibalizing their young? Similar problems arise from the fact that family badges are mixtures of chemical compounds of very low volatility with the consequence that they can only be transferred by direct contact and that during moulting all substances are lost which an individual does not produce itself. It is shown that in solving these problems inhibiting properties (presumably substances) and learning play a dominant role.show moreshow less

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Metadaten
Author: Karl Eduard Linsenmair
URN:urn:nbn:de:bvb:20-opus-30846
Document Type:Journal article
Faculties:Fakultät für Biologie / Theodor-Boveri-Institut für Biowissenschaften
Language:English
Year of Completion:1984
Source:In: Symp. Zool. Soc. Lond. (1984) 53, 423-453.
Dewey Decimal Classification:5 Naturwissenschaften und Mathematik / 59 Tiere (Zoologie) / 590 Tiere (Zoologie)
Release Date:2009/09/06