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10. Ecology

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Chapter Summary

This chapter presents a short overview of general and specific information on oligochaete ecology. As in all animal species, oligochaetes need food and oxygen. Otherwise, some species of oligochaetes are more capable to survive and reproduce in instable environments than others. The capability to survive in certain habitats like (hyper) saline or ionic instable environments depends on the species specific osmotic regulation. In aquatic oligochaete species, strategy can even change within an individual or species in the same habitat. Under the influence of pollution, tolerant species may change their reproductive strategy from sexual to an a-asexual (or a parthenogenetic) one or vice-versa. The ability to change their reproductive strategies is known from Limnodrilus hoffmeisteri and Tubifex tubifex. T. tubifex can reproduce both sexually and asexually by parthenogenesis. This species will only reproduce parthenogenetic when the circumstances are unfavourable.

Keywords: oligochaete ecology; osmotic regulation; parthenogenesis; T. tubifex



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