(Springtails, Snow Fleas)
Kenneth A. Christiansen
Grinnell College, Grinnell, Iowa
California State University, Northridge
Collembola or springtails comprise one of the most widespread and abundant groups of terrestrial arthropods. They are found everywhere, to the utmost reaches of multicellular animals in the Antarctic and Arctic and in all habitats except the open oceans and deep areas of large lakes. These all-wingless hexapods range in adult size from 0.4 to
over 10 mm. Their small size generally results in their being overlooked, but they display an enormous range of body forms (Fig. 1), habitats, and habits. While most feed on fungi, bacteria, and decaying vegetation, some are carnivores, others are herbivores, and a number are fluid feeders. There are many commensal but no parasitic forms. They are most common in soils and leaf litter, but many species live in vegetation, littoral and neustonic habitats, caves, and ice fields or glaciers. Collembola have been classified with the insects but are now generally considered to belong to an order closely related to the Diplura and Protura. There are approximately 9000 described species belonging to about 27 families (Table I).
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