Water flea morphs, SEM

Water flea morphs, SEM

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This image is part of the feature Morphing Water Fleas


Caption: Water flea morphs. Coloured scanning electron micrograph (SEM) of differently-shaped forms of the water flea Daphnia lumholtzi. Research at the Ludwig-Maximilians University in Germany has shown phenotypic plasticity in several water fleas; they can change their body shapes in response to chemicals (kairomones) given off by predators. The form on the right is a standard shape, whilst that on the left has developed a large helmet on its head (upper left), with an enlarged fornix (light- coloured ridge), as well as a long tail spike. These may make it more difficult for fish to catch or eat it. Magnification unknown.

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