Species Diversity of Animals in Japan pp 267-284
Tardigrade Research in Japan
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Tardigrades (water bears) are microscopic animals walking slowly with four pairs of legs, comprising the phylum Tardigrada, which is closely related to other ecdysozoans such as Arthropoda and Onychophora. They dwell in diverse habitats such as terrestrial soil, mosses, lichens, and sediments in freshwater and marine environments. Limno-terrestrial tardigrades show characteristic biological properties including anhydrobiosis, in which the animals can tolerate extreme conditions. Freshwater and marine species have been less studied than terrestrial species. However, biodiversity research on Japanese marine tardigrades became active after 2013. In this chapter, studies on tardigrades in Japan are briefly reviewed. A total of 166 species known from Japan are listed.