Many Collembola species are characterised by an aggregative behaviour, which is closely related to communication and co-ordination between individuals. In spite of a general heavy predation pressure, a large number of Collembola is found in soil suggesting that they have developed defence strategies against predators. This study investigates changes in spatial structure of gregarious Collembola species in presence of a predator. It is analysed if the gregarious lifestyle of Collembola populations functions as a defence strategy against predation. In presence of a predator distances between individuals in the Collembola species Folsomia candida and Heteromurus tetrophthalmus became closer, reducing the risk of individuals to be captured by predators. On the contrary, Onychiurus sinensis specimens, which were never caught probably because of the extrusion of repelling fluids by means of their pseudocelli, moved away from each another. Besides being a successful chemical defence against predation, repelling fluid secretion may effectively repel conspecifics, thereby keeping individuals at greater distance.
- Chemical defence