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Growth and life histories in Nematoda with particular reference to environmental factors

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image of Nematology
For more content, see Nematologica.

To seek unifying principles underlying growth patterns in the phylum Nematoda, the volume of successive developmental stages was determined from published measurements. Within some groups occupying fairly uniform, non-living habitats ( e.g. , Longidoridae, Mononchida, non-parasitic Rhabditida) growth patterns are similar, as are the sizes of both sexes. In aquatic Chromadorida and Monhysterida, females are commonly larger than males. Plant-parasitic groups vary in the relative size of the sexes; within Criconematoidea there is some reduction of males in Hemicyliophora but extreme reduction in Tylenchulus. Despite freeliving and parasitic cycles of Strongyloides showing differing growth in stages 2 to 4, females are similar in both cycles. The strongylid parasites of vertebrates studied have a bacterial-feeding external stage and have lower growth rates and achieve smaller female size than Ascardia with direct life cycles. In taxa for which data are available, the increase in volume between stages 1 and 2 was 0.4-53-fold; that between stages 2 and 3, typically, 1.8-2.9-fold but up to 8191-fold; between stages 3 to 4, 1.7-3.8-fold but up to 100-fold; and between stage 4 to female, typically, 1.1-42-fold but up to 918-fold. Complete data are available for few nematode species and there is no apparent consistent pattern in which taxa contain 'outliers' at particular stages. Many more data are required to assess the impacts of habitat texture, physical support, food supply and experienced temperature on nematode growth and size.


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