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Introduced Theba pisana snails aestivating on a row of fence posts in Kadina, South Australia

Aestivation,[1] also spelled estivation in the USA, is a state of animal dormancy.

It is somewhat similar to hibernation. The animals are inactive and have a lowered metabolic rate. The state is entered in response to high temperatures and dry conditions. Lungfish have been doing this since the Devonian period.[2] It takes place during times of heat and dryness, the hot dry season, which is often but not necessarily the summer months. A wide range of animals aestivate, including the Nile crocodile and many snails and lady beetles.[3][4]

Invertebrate and vertebrate animals are known to enter this state to avoid damage from high temperatures and the risk of drying out. Both land- and water-living animals can undergo aestivation.

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Notes[change | change source]

  1. from Latin aestas, 'summer'.
  2. Miller, William Charles (2007). Trace fossils: concepts, problems, prospects. Elsevier. p. 206. ISBN 9780444529497.
  3. Philip Withers, Scott Pedler & Michael Guppy. 1997. Physiological adjustments during aestivation by the Australian land snail Rhagada tescorum (Mollusca: Pulmonata: Camaenidae). Australian Journal of Zoology 45(6) 599 - 611. abstract.
  4. Hagen K.S. 1962. Biology and ecology of predaceous Coccinellidae. Annual Review of Entomology 7: 289-326