How do spring­tails sur­vive on wa­ter?

BBC Wildlife Magazine - - Q&A - RJ

AThe wa­ter spring­tail Po­dura aquat­ica oc­cu­pies the sur­face of any still wa­ter from ponds to pud­dles, and has sev­eral adap­ta­tions that en­able it to sur­vive. It is cov­ered in tiny hy­dropho­bic bumps that keep it dry as it grazes al­gae or scav­enges on or­ganic mat­ter, and a spe­cial hy­drophilic tube, known as a col­lophore, for keep­ing a grip on the sur­face ten­sion. The an­i­mals also float in rafts, par­tic­u­larly in fine weather, af­ford­ing them safety in num­bers and help­ing them to find mates.

Like their cousins that re­side un­der logs and in the leaf lit­ter, wa­ter spring­tails can jump by flipping open their long, spat­u­late tail-spring or­gans, hit­ting them against the sur­face ten­sion with­out break­ing it. The seashore spring­tail

Anurida mar­itima forms sim­i­lar rafts on rock­pools, and though it can also an­chor it­self us­ing its col­lophore, lack of a springed tail means it can only wad­dle on the wa­ter.

Wa­ter spring­tails live on the wa­ter sur­face all year round, bear­ing sev­eral gen­er­a­tions.

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