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Journal of Arid Land  2018, Vol. 10 Issue (3): 470-481    DOI: 10.1007/s40333-018-0058-2
Orginal Article     
Hourly and monthly variations in the surface activity patterns of Hemilepistus reaumurii in arid environments of Tunisia
Research Unit of Bio-Ecology and Evolutive Systematics, Faculty of Sciences of Tunis, University of Tunis El Manar, Tunis 2092, Tunisia
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Life in desert ecosystems drives animals to adapt their surface locomotor activity according to environmental conditions. In this study, the hourly and monthly variations in the surface activity patterns of the terrestrial crustacean Hemilepistus reaumurii were investigated. The surface activity of H. reaumurii at the population scale was observed by collecting the hourly active individuals from the sunrise to the sunset of the studied day in each month of 2013 in the Bchachma locality, Tunisia. The collected active individuals were put in perspex boxes (on which we labeled the hourly time interval in which the individuals were collected) in the field and then transported to the laboratory for analysis. Individuals were counted, sexed, and measured in the laboratory. Despite desert conditions in the studied site, H. reaumurii was characterized by a diurnal surface activity, showing a bimodal pattern during the warm months (i.e., May to October). However, it exhibited a unimodal surface activity pattern in the cold months (i.e., February, March, and November). The surface activity was significantly correlated with sunrise and sunset. Moreover, a significant quadratic effect of temperature on the surface activity of H. reaumurii was observed. Furthermore, the study showed that the most important surface activity was recorded in March. The daily exploitation of the temporal niches was significantly different as a function of months. The body size of males was larger than that of females, and the body size of active individuals changed with months. All these behavioural changes in the surface activity represent an adaptive strategy of life in the arid environment.

Key wordsdiurnal activity      variation pattern      aboveground activity      desert isopod      temporal niche      Hemilepistus reaumurii      Tunisia     
Received: 29 June 2017      Published: 10 June 2018
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AYARI Anas, TOUIHRI Moez, GHEMARI Chedlia, NASRI-AMMAR Karima. Hourly and monthly variations in the surface activity patterns of Hemilepistus reaumurii in arid environments of Tunisia. Journal of Arid Land, 2018, 10(3): 470-481.

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