Polar Biology

, Volume 38, Issue 10, pp 1575–1581 | Cite as

Life history of the Antarctic tardigrade, Acutuncus antarcticus, under a constant laboratory environment

  • Megumu Tsujimoto
  • Atsushi C. Suzuki
  • Satoshi Imura
Original Paper


Tardigrades are found in most terrestrial and freshwater Antarctic ecosystems and are one of the most diverse and important groups of invertebrates in Antarctica. We developed a new laboratory system for rearing the Antarctic tardigrade Acutuncus antarcticus (Richters 1904), one of the most widespread and common Antarctic tardigrade species. To provide a description of the life history of this tardigrade, survival and reproduction of 68 individuals were observed and recorded daily at a constant temperature of 15 °C. The life-history data obtained are consistent with previous studies of other tardigrades. The exceptionally high hatching success obtained is suggested to be an important life-history characteristic of this species contributing to it often being a common and dominant species in the Antarctic habitats in which it occurs. Furthermore, high hatching success combined with very low variation in development time, under the protocol used in the current study, indicates that A. antarcticus may be a good model species for studies in developmental biology. Integrating data from this and previous studies, the importance of temperature on reproduction and growth in A. antarcticus was inferred. With terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems in some parts of Antarctica experiencing sometimes drastic contemporary climatic and environmental changes, studies of the effect of temperature on generation time and reproductive success in Antarctic tardigrades are urgently required, as these animals are important elements of community structure and function in polar ecosystems.


Tardigrade Antarctica Reproduction Hatching success Lifespan 



We thank Daiki Horikawa and Hiroshi Kagoshima for useful advice in establishing the rearing method and data collection. Peter Convey, Sandra McInnes and three anonymous reviewers provided helpful comments and advice on the manuscript. This study was supported by Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research No. 23247012 to SI from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, and also contributes to the SCAR AnT-ERA research programme.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Megumu Tsujimoto
    • 1
  • Atsushi C. Suzuki
    • 2
  • Satoshi Imura
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.National Institute of Polar ResearchTachikawa-shiJapan
  2. 2.Keio UniversityHiyoshiJapan
  3. 3.SOKENDAI (The Graduate University for Advanced Studies)Tachikawa-shiJapan

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