, Volume 313, Issue 1, pp 267–278 | Cite as

Relation to habitat in rotifers

  • Birger Pejler


Rotifera should be especially suited for an analysis of habitat relations because this group contains such a high number of species, inhabiting diverse environments. Furthermore, rotifers are to a large extent cosmopolitan, implying that ecological barriers, rather than geographical, are decisive of their distribution. In this review a short characterization of the rotifer fauna in different habitats is given, whereby macroenvironments and microenvironments are reported separately. The macroenvironments are classified as follows: ‘harmonious’ lakes and ponds, arctic and antarctic waters, hot springs, hypertrophic-saprobic environments, mires, strongly acidic waters, saline waters, temporary water bodies, subterranean waters, running waters, oceans, terrestrial environments. The following microenvironments are distinguished: macrophytes (housing periphytic rotifers), open water (with planktic forms), minerogenous sediments (with psammon and hyporheos), organogenous sediments, other organisms (i.e. parasites and epizoans).

Many rotifers are more or less euryecious, while relatively few are strongly restricted in their choice of habitat. In extreme environments a low number of species is found, but often a high number of individuals within these species. These rotifers are usually primary consumers, and for natural reasons extreme environments are characterized by a low number of trophic levels.

In environments with a high species number the separate species differ very much in their morphology, making it difficult to find common traits which may be interpreted as adaptations to the respective habitats. The most apparent adaptations ought to be found among the planktic rotifers, and these adaptations seem to constitute largely a protection against predators. Rotifers in extreme environments are usually not very apart in a morphological or taxonomical respect, with their most close relatives living in ‘normal’ habitats and sometimes euryecious (an apparent exception from this rule is formed by the class Seisonidea). Adaptations to deviating chemical and physical environments may develop relatively rapidly (seen from a geological perspective), while the more fundamental changes (occurring during a longer period of time) seem to be a response to biotic factors (e.g., the development of different types of trophi for facilitating food collection).

Key words

rotifers ecology substrate habitat 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Birger Pejler
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of LimnologyUppsalaSweden

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