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Pauropods: Pauropoda

Behavior And Reproduction

Populations of pauropods are usually small and widely scattered, but the populations of some species can reach the thousands in both wild areas and agricultural fields. They move through the soil to follow changing moisture levels. Since their bodies are soft and not built for burrowing, pauropods follow roots and crevices deep into the soil as they search for moisture. Most species run very quickly, usually in fits and starts. These species usually change directions with ease, but a few are not so agile. Nothing is known about how they communicate with each other or whether or not they maintain territories.

Both males and females are usually required for reproduction. A few species are known to reproduce by parthenogenesis (PAR-thuh-no-JEH-nuh-sihs), where the larvae (LAR-vee), or young, develop from unfertilized eggs. The eggs go through a short pupalike stage before they hatch. A pupa (PYU-puh) is the life stage between larva and adult. In one group of pauropods the larvae hatch with three pairs of legs. With each molt, or shedding of the exoskeleton, or hard outer covering, the total number of legs changes to five, six, and eight pairs. In all other pauropods the hatching larvae start with six pairs of legs.


Since 1866 more than seven hundred species of pauropods have been described, but there may be two thousand to three thousand species awaiting discovery, possibly more. In 2002, a retired high school teacher from Sweden, the world's only authority on the group, paid a visit to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Only five species of pauropods were known from the park, but in just three weeks he found at least forty-four species, twelve of which were new to science.

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceInsects and SpidersPauropods: Pauropoda - Physical Characteristics, Behavior And Reproduction, No Common Name (allopauropus Carolinensis): Species Account - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, DIET, PAUROPODS AND PEOPLE, CONSERVATION STATUS