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 Major Groups | Gastrotrichia (gastrotrichs)

Gastrotrichia (gastrotrichs)

Descriptive Features:

  • head distinct, separated from body by a short neck
  • mouth terminal on head; body flattened, variable in shape, covered by thin cuticle, may be patterned or bear protrusions, bears cilia (sometimes in longitudinal bands)
  • furca located posteriorly; anus opens above base of furca
  • Total length: tiny animals, less than 0.5 mm

    Distribution: Australia wide

    Sensitivity Rating: none

    Functional Feeding Group: gathering collector


    farm dam, Nowra NSW

    Ecology: Gastrotrichia occur in benthic areas of small still waters including, ponds, bogs, puddles and drainage ditches. They ‘glide’ along substrata using the motion of the bands of cilia and feed on bacteria, algae, protozoans and small particles of organic detritus. All Gastrotrichia are female. They reproduce parthenogenetically. A small clutch of one to five eggs is attached to a submerged object. There are two types of eggs; opsiblastic eggs are resistant to unfavourable conditions; tachyblastic eggs hatch soon after laying into structurally different juveniles.


    Information Sources: Williams 1980, CSIRO 1996