Summer quiescent behaviour of the millipede Ommatoiulus moreleti (Julida: Julidae)

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Abstract

The millipede Ommatoiulus moreleti (Lucas), (Julidae) originates in the south-west Iberian Peninsula, and has successfully invaded parts of southern Australia with hot, dry summers. The species is inactive in the field during summer but is active in autumn, particularly following rains, and in spring. There is some activity in winter. In this paper, the temperature and humidity determinants of seasonal behaviour are analysed, in particular the conditions causing summer quiescence.

Experiments using a millipede treadmill apparatus at different temperatures at 95% RH showed an almost linear response of locomotor activity with temperature between 3 and 21°C, but when the temperature was increased to 28°C, the millipedes became quiescent. Activity could he restored by reducing the temperature.

When the millipedes were exposed to 45% RH there was comparatively little activity at any temperature. Field evidence indicates ii rapid breaking of quiescence with surface moisture

The success of O. moreleti in invading the surface-litter habitat in South Australia can he explained by its ability to avoid desiccation; its adaptations include its quiescent behaviour during summer and its ability to moult from a winter (reproductive) to B summer (non-reproductive) form.

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