The Ecology Of Morphotype

The smooth, flattened body typical of many cockroaches is functionally related to their crevice-inhabiting lifestyle; it allows them to slip into narrow, horizontally extended spaces like those found in strata of matted, decayed leaves. There are, however, a number of variations on the basic body type that are exhibited by groups of often distantly related cockroaches occupying more or less the same ecological niche. These possess a complex of similar morphological characters reflecting the demands of their environment. Here we briefly profile seven distinct morphological groups. Two are defensive morphotypes, and two are forms specialized for penetrating solid substrates. Desert dwellers, those living in social insect nests, and cave cockroaches round out the gallery.

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