Dormancy in invertebrates

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The ability to survive in a dormant state is a widespread, yet unevenly distributed feature among invertebrates. Organisms belonging to classes and phyla that include fresh-water or terrestrial representatives are more likely to possess a dormant stage than those in groups that are exclusively marine. Moreover, within taxa where dormancy has evolved, it is more common among fresh-water and terrestrial species than in marine species. This correlation between dormancy and habitat across 29 free-living invertebrate phyla raises the question of cause and effect. Are dormant stages more common in fresh-water and terrestrial habitats because there is greater selection for dormancy in those environments, or is dormancy a prerequisite for the successful invasion of non-marine systems? The mechanism of dormancy varies among species and ranges from a specialized diapausing embryo to a quiescent adult. Dormancy has most likely arisen multiple times in invertebrate life histories, both within and between phyla. Although dormancy may facilitate the invasion of fresh-water and terrestrial habitats, it is not always a requirement: many non-marine species do not exhibit dormancy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)371-383
Number of pages13
JournalInvertebrate Biology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1997


  • Diapause
  • Fresh-water
  • Life history
  • Marine
  • Quiescence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology


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