, Volume 212, Issue 1, pp 105-116

Life history adaptations of phyllopods in response to predators, vegetation, and habitat duration in north-eastern Natal

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Phyllopod populations were monitored in three temporary pools differing in the amount of submerged, peripheral vegetation present, surface area and duration. The effects of these factors on the life history strategies employed by phyllopods were investigated. Triops granarius, various conchostracan species and the anostracan Branchipodopsis sp. inhabited the periphery of two pools where rooted, submerged vegetation was abundant while three Streptocephalus species dominated the central, unvegetated regions of the pools and the unvegetated pool. This distribution pattern appeared to be related to the animals' morphology and feeding habits. The peripheral regions of the pools were stressful habitats since they were colonized by large numbers of predators and competitors 30–40 days after inundation and they dried out sooner than the centre. The ‘peripheral’ species exhibited typical r-selected life history strategies; they grew rapidly, reproduced early and had short lifespans and in this way they overcame the threats presented by their habitat. The ‘central’ species took advantage of their predator-free, more stable habitat and exhibited life history patterns which tended towards the K-end of the r-K continuum. A degree of intraspecific variation in growth and reproduction was obvious and appeared to be related to differences in habitat duration of the three pools.