Life cycle and calculation of the intrinsic rate of natural increase of two bacterivorous nematodes, Panagrolaimus sp. and Poikilolaimus sp. from chemoautotrophic Movile Cave, Romania
The life cycle and somatic growth of two bacterivorous nematodes, Panagrolaimus sp. and Poikilolaimus sp., isolated from chemoautotrophic microbial mats in Movile Cave, Romania, were studied in monoxenic cultures at 20°C with Escherichia coli as the food source. A method is described that allows simultaneous investigation of the somatic growth pattern, age-specific fecundity, and age-specific mortality of single individuals with high accuracy. Somatic growth curves of the species are presented. During juvenile development, both species showed a strict linear increase in body length, whereas body weight increased exponentially. Growth was continuous without lag phases. The relationships between fresh weight, W (μg), and body length, L (mm), were W = 1.6439L2.7672 for Poikilolaimus sp. and W = 0.2085L4.0915 for Panagrolaimus sp. Life tables and fecundity schedules for the two species are presented. In addition, demographic parameters were calculated. For Panagrolaimus, the intrinsic rate of natural increase (rm), calculated according to the Lotka equation, was 0.309, the net reproductive rate (R0) 64, the mean generation time (T) 13.8 days and the minimum generation time (Tmin) 9.5 days. The corresponding values for Poikilolaimus were rm = 0.165, R0 = 108, T = 26.2 and Tmin = 19.5. Panagrolaimus produced fewer progeny than Poikilolaimus during its life but exhibited faster population growth due to its faster maturation. It showed a distinct post-reproductive period, whereas Poikilolaimus remained fertile until death.