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Freshwater invertebrate life history strategies for surviving desiccation

Strachan, S.R., Chester, E.T. and Robson, B.J. (2015) Freshwater invertebrate life history strategies for surviving desiccation. Springer Science Reviews, 3 (1). pp. 57-75.

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In many regions, climate change is prolonging dry periods in rivers and wetlands, exposing freshwater invertebrates to increased periods of desiccation. Invertebrates show a range of strategies for surviving desiccation, but the effects of the degree of exposure to desiccation on the expression of particular traits is unknown. This review synthesizes existing information on the desiccation responses of freshwater invertebrates to examine the flexibility of these survival strategies and the relationship between strategies and the degree of desiccation to which individuals are exposed. It focuses on desiccation at the small spatial scales experienced by individuals and clarifies the terminology of resting stages present during desiccation. We provide a key to terminology used for different forms of dormancy, so that appropriate terms may be used. All invertebrate groups showed a range of strategies for surviving desiccation. Sometimes, different traits were expressed among different populations of a species; however, it is unclear how many species show multiple desiccation response strategies. Many crustacean taxa showed physiological dormancy responses to desiccation that enabled survival for long periods (years). Insects often rely on emigration from drying waterbodies as flying adults or on larvae occupying damp refuges on the benthos. Altered water regimes may alter the phenology of desiccation responses, potentially increasing local extinctions, even in species capable of prolonged dormancy because of constraints on life cycles. However, there is limited empirical evidence demonstrating the flexibility of, or limitations to, expression of these survival strategies and their potential fitness costs.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Veterinary and Life Sciences
Publisher: Springer
Copyright: © Springer International Publishing AG 2015
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