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STUDIES ON PLASTRON RESPIRATION I. THE BIOLOGY OF APHELOCHEIRUS (HEMIPTERA, APHELOCHEIRIDAE (NAUCORIDAE)) AND THE MECHANISM OF PLASTRON RETENTION

STUDIES ON PLASTRON RESPIRATION I. THE BIOLOGY OF APHELOCHEIRUS (HEMIPTERA, APHELOCHEIRIDAE (NAUCORIDAE)) AND THE MECHANISM OF PLASTRON RETENTION,W. H

STUDIES ON PLASTRON RESPIRATION I. THE BIOLOGY OF APHELOCHEIRUS (HEMIPTERA, APHELOCHEIRIDAE (NAUCORIDAE)) AND THE MECHANISM OF PLASTRON RETENTION   (Citations: 16)
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The probability that certain aquatic insects are able to extract oxygen from solution in the water by means of the air bubbles which adhere to their bodies was first suggested by J. H. Comstock in 1887, but it was not until Ege studied the subject in 1918 that the process was at all understood. Previously to Ege's experiments opinion had wavered between the theory that either the air stores carried by aquatic insects were hydrostatic in function (Brocher), or that they were genuine stores of air on which the insect could draw for its oxygen requirements whilst submerged, most workers rightly holding a combination of the two. The work of Ege confirmed the suggestions of Comstock and of a number of subsequent observers that the air bubbles carried by such insects as Dytiscidae, Notonectidae and Corixidae, besides constituting an air store, can, in fact, be used as a kind of * physical gill \ Thus in many beetles a certain part of the surface of the subelytral air store is exposed to the water by abdominal movement. In other beetles, such as the Hydrophilidae and in the corixid bugs, an air film is carried entangled in the body-surface hairs, this film connecting with the spiracles and so providing a means whereby oxygen from the water can diffuse into the tracheal system. Insects which have such an air film entangled in their pubescence of course appear silvery when submerged. This system, consisting of the hairs and the layer of entangled air, was termed by Brocher (19126) the * Plastron', a convenient term equivalent to Lufthulle of Schaufuss (1916). Gas- bubble respiration and plastron respiration in the original sense thus involve simply the transport of oxygen from the surrounding medium to the internal gaseous environment across an air-water interface formed by a thin film or bubble of gas held on the body surface by suitable hairs. Ege showed that some larger species of aquatic insects can only get enough oxygen by diffusion into their gas films or bubbles when they are quiescent, and that any considerable degree of activity involves frequent visits to the surface in order to renew the oxygen supply by means of pumping movements ventilating mechanically the air spaces and tracheal system. But in other smaller bubble-carrying insects, for instance, Hyphydrus and the smaller species of Corixa, the gill effect of their gas bubble or film supplies them with sufficient oxygen to render them practically independent of visits to the surface even jEB.24,3 & 4 I5
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