- Cryptic speciation
Rotifers have attracted the attention of biologists for well over 200 years. Interest in these exquisite animals rests in their diverse morphology, short generation time resulting in high growth rates, ability to withstand desiccation, and wide distribution, coupled with evidence of cryptic speciation. Moreover, three modes of reproduction are present in the phylum: obligatory sexuality, cyclical parthenogenesis, and obligatory ameiotic parthenogenesis. Thus, this phylum offers a rich field of study. Recognizing the need to share advances in knowledge, a triennial meeting, the International Rotifer Symposium (IRS), was begun in 1976. The most recent symposium (13th IRS) was held at Shillong (India) from 18–24, November 2012. In this commentary we considered the development of rotifer research as viewed through the lens of more than 35 years of IRS. Initially papers presented at the IRS focused on ecology, morphology, and pure taxonomic problems, with little applied work being reported. However, after more than three decades, the emphasis has swung to a balance of both basic (e.g., aging, ecology, genetics, and taxonomy) and applied (aquaculture and ecotoxicology) research.