Water flea morphs, SEM

Water flea morphs, SEM

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This image is part of the feature Morphing Water Fleas

Credit: CHRISTIAN LAFORSCH/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Water flea morphs. Coloured scanning electron micrograph (SEM) of differently-shaped forms of the water flea Daphnia pulex. Research at the Ludwig-Maximilians University in Munich, 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 left is a standard shape, whilst that on the right has developed two "neck teeth" (small projections, upper right) on the back of its head (green). These may make it more difficult for invertebrate predators such as the phantom midge (Chaoborus sp.) to catch or eat it. Magnification unknown.

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