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Maintenance of biochemical gradients, membrane fluidity, and sustained periods of activity are key physiological and behavioral functions of water for animals living in desiccating environments. Water stress may reduce the organism's ability to maintain these functions and as such, may reduce an organism's growth. However, few studies have examined this potential effect. The effects of altered hydration state of the house cricket, Acheta domesticus L. (Orthoptera: Gryllidae) on individual growth were studied under laboratory conditions. Crickets were permitted access to water for three different durations each day, resulting in significant differences in hydration state (32% greater hydration for maximum than minimum duration of water availability). Growth was 59% and 72% greater in dry mass and length, respectively, between the lowest and highest hydration state treatments. These findings may be representative for a variety of animal species and environments and could have important ecological implications.
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