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What are scorpions?

Why study scorpions?
Life History
Dwindling Expertise


Approximate world distribution of scorpions

Scorpions occur on all continents except Antarctica, but are most abundant and diverse in tropical and subtropical regions. The greatest abundance and diversity of scorpions is associated with desert and semi-desert habitats, but they may also be found in savannas and grasslands, in deciduous, coniferous, and tropical rainforests, on high mountain slopes (above 5500 m elevation) in the Alps, Himalayas and Andes, in some of the deepest caves (nearly 1 km below the surface), and even in the intertidal zone (Polis 1990).  Although most scorpions are terrestrial, some are arboreal.  Favored habitats include burrows (up to 1 m deep, to escape hot diurnal temperatures), spaces under tree bark, logs, stones, and in rock crevices.  Some species adapt well to human environments.  Scorpions are often abundant in suitable habitat.  Densities of 1 per square meter were reported for the Middle Eastern Leiurus quinquestriatus (Levy & Amitai 1980), and of 8 -12 per square meter for the intertidal Serradigitus littoralis from Baja California (Due & Polis 1985).  Given the high densities of scorpions in some areas, their importance in ecological food webs, particularly with respect to helping control insect populations, is considerable (McCormick & Polis 1990).  Many are sensitive to environmental degradation and are considered equilibrium species (Polis & Farley 1980).

Literature Cited:

Due, A.D. & Polis, G.A. 1985. Biology of the intertidal scorpion, Vaejovis littoralis. Journal of Zoology, London 207: 563580.

Levy, G. & Amitai, P. 1980. Fauna Palaestina. Arachnida. I. Scorpiones. Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, Jerusalem.

McCormick, S.J. & Polis, G.A. 1990. Prey, predators, parasites. In: Polis, G.A. (Ed.) The Biology of Scorpions. Stanford University Press, Stanford, CA, 294320.

Polis, G.A. 1990. Ecology. In: Polis, G.A. (Ed.) The Biology of Scorpions. Stanford University Press, Stanford, CA, 247293.

Polis, G.A. & Farley, R.D. 1979a. Behavior and ecology of mating in the cannibalistic scorpion, Paruroctonus

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