Avdonina A.M. 2011. [Ecology of the terrestrial and freshwater tardigrades (Tardigrada): autecological aspect] // Invertebrate Zoology. Vol.8. No.1: 11–22 [in Russian, with English summary].

The Russian Academy of Economics and Public Administration under the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir branch, Gorkogo Str. 59A, 600017 Vladimir, Russia; e-mail: aaleksandra@mail.ru

KEY WORDS: tardigrades (Tardigrada), ecology, autecology, ecological factor, moisture, oxygen, temperature, light, altitude, radiation, food, space, anhydrobiosis.

ABSTRACT: This review generalizes the autecological data on terrestrial and freshwater tardigrades for the 100 past years, systematizing the research results showing the influence of the various environmental factors on tardigrades and adaptations of these amazing animals. Autecological researches help to understand the distribution of tardigrades in recent conditions, and also show the potential of these animals. The extraordinary tardigrade tolerance to ionizing radiation, high pressure and low temperatures in the anhydrobiosis gives the key to solve the problem of organism survival in extraterrestrial environments. In spite of the high tolerance to the significant anthropogenic exposure, such as influence of transport emissions, industrial pollution, cuttings, fires, etc., many among them change the quantitative and qualitative composition of tardigradofauna. Therefore Tardigrada can be used as biological indicators of air pollution, particularly by the sulfur dioxide and the heavy metals.

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