The tracks of normal organisms of Oxytricha bifaria and of stage IA, IB, II, III, IV and V doublets were studied to test the hypothesis that the doublet might function as a dispersal form. Stage IA, the only stage to swim, swims straight with only rare interruptions; its rate of mobility (Rmo = 443 μ/s) is roughly twice that of singlets (Rmo = 218 μ/s). Stage IA doublets swim in three-dimensional movement which enables them to be carried away by water currents. The other stages seem to represent passage back towards the normal singlet form. The ethological evidence reported here together with other results already published supports the working hypothesis that the doublet of O. bifaria is a dispersal form suggests that the doublet might well represent a special fourth differentiation state of this species in addition to pairs, giants, and cysts.
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Vol. 47 • No. 2