*Department of Biology, University of Keele, Staffs.
Notes on the life-history and ecology of Tachypodoiulus niger (Diplopoda, Iulidae) in Britain
Article first published online: 20 AUG 2009
Journal of Zoology
Volume 156, Issue 2, pages 257–271, October 1968
How to Cite
Blower, J. G. and Fairhurst, C. P. (1968), Notes on the life-history and ecology of Tachypodoiulus niger (Diplopoda, Iulidae) in Britain. Journal of Zoology, 156: 257–271. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-7998.1968.tb05932.x
- Issue published online: 20 AUG 2009
- Article first published online: 20 AUG 2009
- Accepted 9 April 1968
In some iulids females can moult several times after first attaining maturity but males cannot. Males of Tachypodoiulus niger (Leach) are exceptional in that they can moult, but they lose their functional intromittent organs in the process, regaining them after a second moult. The process can be repeated, a series of functional males alternating with nonfunctional males. This extension of the life and the consequent increase in number of segments led Verhoeff (1928) to postulate that the ancestral millipede was short-bodied and that many-segmented forms were derived from it. We think that this extension of life is of ecological rather than phylogenetic significance–adapting the species to disperse widely to scattered habitats. In particular, the extension of life of males as well as of females may ensure a reasonable sex ratio in those areas where the species is least dense.
In Britain, Tachypodoiulus niger lays eggs in spring which reach the fourth and fifth stadia by their first winter and the seventh, eighth and ninth stadia by their second winter. Maturity is usually attained by males in the eighth stadium but occasional specimens mature at stadium seven and others defer maturity until the ninth. Both sexes can proceed to the fourteenth stadium but adults in Britain usually belong to two generations of two and three years old, divided mainly between the eighth, ninth and tenth stadia. Details are given of a large collection made by the late Dr Scott of animals taking refuge in his house at Henley-on-Thames. Animals in Britain appear to have a similar life history to those in Germany as described by Verhoeff, but effective comparison has depended on correcting and re-interpreting some of Verhoeff's data.