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Natural history

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Keystone species (species that have a disproportionate effect on ecosystems) can provide particularly important insight to major drivers of eco-evolutionary dynamics (Schoener 2011; Matthews et al. 2011; Miner et al. 2012; Reznick et al. 2019). A. aquaticus is an ecologically important species that contributes to the recycling of nutrients and biomass, within the aquatic ecosystems it inhabits (e.g. lakes, ponds, rivers and creeks) as well as in the aquatic-terrestrial interphase (Carpenter and Lodge 1986; Graça et al. 1994; Bjelke and Herrmann 2005). Moreover, A. aquaticus is an important prey species for mesopredators (e.g. fish and damselfly larvae [Hart and Gill 1992; Hargeby et al. 2004]), and a host to parasites (e.g. acanthocephalans; ref) as well as to a diverse community of protozoans (e.g. Zimmer and Bartholmé 2003; Cook et al. 1998) and rotifers (Cook et al. 1998). However, despite over 150 years of research on A. aquaticus from various perspectives, surprisingly little is known about the role of isopods into aquatic food webs, and their importance for the functioning of the respective ecosystem they are found in. Below we showcase a few key aspects of particular ecological relevance.

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