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Haug, Joachim T. (2020): Why the term "larva" is ambiguous, or what makes a larva? In: Acta Zoologica, Vol. 101, No. 2: pp. 167-188

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The term "larva" is used for many different metazoans. Although this implies a uniform meaning, the term has in fact been used to address immatures with very different characteristics. For providing more precise reference how the term larva is applied in a specific context, I outline here different criteria that have been used to identify an immature as a larva. These include larvae that (a) differ morphologically from their adult (morpho-larva s. l.);(b) differ morphologically from their adult and additionally possess structures that become reduced during ontogeny (morpho-larva s. str.);(c) have a different ecological niche than their adult (eco-larva s. l.);(d) have a different ecological niche than their adult and additionally fulfil a dispersal function (eco-larva s. str.);(e) transform by a metamorphosis to the non-larval immature or adult (metamorph-larva);(f) differ from the adult by having evolved new structures in the early stages (apo-larva);(g) differ from the adult as the adult has evolved new structures (plesio-larva). The differentiation of these criteria will provide a more precise reference reducing possible misunderstanding and allowing a more precise communication.

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