Habitats And Habits

Most Collembola in temperate and arctic zones live in the soil or ground litter, but there are several groups, most notably the Sminthuridae, that largely inhabit vegetation. In tropical regions Collembola are abundant in trees and epiphytic plants. In rain forests, they are rare in soils but abundant in trees. Collembola are abundant in many caves and are frequent in marine littoral zones. They are also common in the interstitial sand regions of marine beaches and the surface of standing fresh water. In all these examples there are many species specialized for these habitats. Collembola have recently been discovered at depths up to 20 m in both fresh and salt water, but nothing is known of the habits of such forms. Many species are found in bird and mammal nests, and microcavernicole habitats are frequently exploited but such forms show no particular specializations, being also found either in litter or in soil habitats. Ant and termite nests are frequently occupied, and one family, the Cyphoderidae, consists largely of species limited to and highly adapted for life in these habitats. Some of the most striking examples of presumed commensalism occur in the genus Axelsonia (Isotomidae), of which one species lives in the gill chamber of land crabs, and in the family Coenaletidae, of which all species are confined to the shell of terrestrial hermit crabs.

The forms living in the different habitats often display a suite of morphological characteristics correlated to their habitat. Thus, forms that have reduced furcula, reduced or no eyes, weak pigment, and reduced pointed tenent hairs are characteristically found in soil. Forms with no eyes or pigment; well-developed furcula; elongate, slender untoothed ungues; and reduced, pointed tenent hairs (troglomorphic) are almost always cave dwelling. Almost all species with well-

FIGURE 4 Collembolans discovered in various habitats in Reading, UK. (A) Podura aquatica (Poduridae), from the surface of a garden pond. (B) Kalaphorura burmeisteri (Onychiuridae), from soil. (C) Dicyrtoma fusca (Dicyrtomidae), from leaf litter. (D) Entomobrya nicoleti (Entomobryidae), under surface debris. (Photographs by Steve Hopkin.)

FIGURE 4 Collembolans discovered in various habitats in Reading, UK. (A) Podura aquatica (Poduridae), from the surface of a garden pond. (B) Kalaphorura burmeisteri (Onychiuridae), from soil. (C) Dicyrtoma fusca (Dicyrtomidae), from leaf litter. (D) Entomobrya nicoleti (Entomobryidae), under surface debris. (Photographs by Steve Hopkin.)

marked color patterns and well-developed furcula are either litter or vegetation dwelling (Fig. 4).

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