Biology, Behavior, and Ecology

The biology, behavior, and ecology of solifuges remain relatively poorly studied, despite the extensive work by Punzo over the past decade and prior work by Muma and others. Punzo (1993, 1994a-d, 1995a, b, 1997, 1998 a-g) and Muma (1966a-e, 1967, 1974a,b, 1979, 1980a,b) have contributed a wealth of information on four species of North American Eremobatidae and general observations on several other eremobatids plus a few ammotrechids (Muma and Muma 1988). Heymons (1802), Cloudsley-Thompson (1961a,b), and Junqua (1966) provided detailed descriptions of the biology of three different species of Galeodidae and Wharton (1987) provided an excellent overview of the biology of Metasolpuga picta (Kraepelin 1899), a diurnal member of the family Solpugidae from Namibia. Detailed observations of specific behaviors such as foraging and reproduction of a few additional species have been published by several workers (notably Turner 1916, Lawrence 1947, 1949, Amitai et al. 1962, Lamoral 1975, Gore and Cushing 1980, Dean and Milton 1991), but again the emphasis has been on members of the Eremobatidae, Galeodidae, and to a much lesser extent the Ammotrechidae and Solpugidae. The statement by Wharton (1987) that little is known about the other families of solifuges remains true. Biological information has been summarized by Muma (1967), Cloudsley-Thompson (1967, 1977), and Punzo (1998g).

Solifugids are one of the dominant predatory arthropods in arid ecosystems and extreme arid ecosystems where there is little vegetation (e.g., rocky habitats and dune systems), and also serve as important prey for such vertebrates as exist in these habitats (Punzo 1998). Schmoller (1970) and Cloudsley-Thompson (1962, 1970) considered solifugids indicator species for desert environments. Living in these arid environments, solifugids are subjected to very high daytime temperatures, low nighttime temperatures and low relative humidity. Nevertheless, they apparently have high metabolic rates and are, probably because of their high metabolic rate, voracious predators. All aspects of their interesting physiology in these extreme ecosystems remain to be explored.

The links on the left of this page further explore different aspects of the biology, behavior, and ecology of solifuges.

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