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Type: Article
Published: 2008-07-25
Page range: 1–13
Abstract views: 112
PDF downloaded: 0

New techniques yield new insights on the basic biology of living microgastropods

light traps emergence traps infauna interstitial fauna stygofauna rafting drifting diel vertical migrations


Light traps, undisturbed sediment cores and emergence traps were used to pursue new knowledge of the biology of poorly-known microgastropods. These tools were used specifi cally to explore novel habitats, behavior and function. The most interesting discoveries include signifi cant interstitial populations of species previously considered rare, including epipsammic browsers and taxa that emerge from the sediment at night. Diel activity patterns include movement between sediment and water column, movement between sediment and marine plants, vertical migrations on marine plants, and movement between plants and plant epiphytes. Unsuspected behavioral correlates include active swimming and mass spawning aggregations and drifting and fl oating using mucus threads to launch into the water column from marine plants or the sides of aquaria. Ciliary locomotion is a convergent theme in microgastropods, with new examples from vetigastropod and neritopsine species that also use mucus threads in drifting. At the sediment-water interface, upside-down ciliary locomotion in the surface tension may be combined with feeding on the rich microbial ecosystem concentrated at the air-water interface.