Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Datasheet

Daphnia
(water flea)

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Datasheet

Daphnia (water flea)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 14 July 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Host Animal
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Daphnia
  • Preferred Common Name
  • water flea
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Metazoa
  •     Phylum: Arthropoda
  •       Subphylum: Crustacea
  •         Class: Branchiopoda

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Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
Daphnia magna (water flea); adult female. D. magna is an example of a group of freshwater crustaceans, often known as water fleas.
TitleAdult
CaptionDaphnia magna (water flea); adult female. D. magna is an example of a group of freshwater crustaceans, often known as water fleas.
Copyright©Hajime Watanabe/via wikipedia/PLoS Genetics, March 2011 - CC BY 3.0
Daphnia magna (water flea); adult female. D. magna is an example of a group of freshwater crustaceans, often known as water fleas.
AdultDaphnia magna (water flea); adult female. D. magna is an example of a group of freshwater crustaceans, often known as water fleas.©Hajime Watanabe/via wikipedia/PLoS Genetics, March 2011 - CC BY 3.0
Daphnia longispina (water flea); adult. Northeim Lake, Germany. August, 2012.
TitleAdult
CaptionDaphnia longispina (water flea); adult. Northeim Lake, Germany. August, 2012.
Copyright©Thctamm-2012/via wikipedia - CC BY-SA 3.0
Daphnia longispina (water flea); adult. Northeim Lake, Germany. August, 2012.
AdultDaphnia longispina (water flea); adult. Northeim Lake, Germany. August, 2012.©Thctamm-2012/via wikipedia - CC BY-SA 3.0
Daphnia lumholtzi (African spiny water-flea); habit. D. lumholtzi is a freshwater cladoceran. January 2010.
TitleHabit
CaptionDaphnia lumholtzi (African spiny water-flea); habit. D. lumholtzi is a freshwater cladoceran. January 2010.
Copyright©Department of Animal Ecology, Evolution & Biodiversity/Ruhr University, Germany - CC BY-NC 2.0
Daphnia lumholtzi (African spiny water-flea); habit. D. lumholtzi is a freshwater cladoceran. January 2010.
HabitDaphnia lumholtzi (African spiny water-flea); habit. D. lumholtzi is a freshwater cladoceran. January 2010.©Department of Animal Ecology, Evolution & Biodiversity/Ruhr University, Germany - CC BY-NC 2.0
Daphnia lumholtzi; habit. A hitch hiker with stocked fish. (note scale) Lexington Reservoir, Santa Clara County, California, USA. September 2004.
TitleHabit
CaptionDaphnia lumholtzi; habit. A hitch hiker with stocked fish. (note scale) Lexington Reservoir, Santa Clara County, California, USA. September 2004.
CopyrightPublic Domain - Released by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). Original photographer, James Kuwabara
Daphnia lumholtzi; habit. A hitch hiker with stocked fish. (note scale) Lexington Reservoir, Santa Clara County, California, USA. September 2004.
HabitDaphnia lumholtzi; habit. A hitch hiker with stocked fish. (note scale) Lexington Reservoir, Santa Clara County, California, USA. September 2004.Public Domain - Released by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). Original photographer, James Kuwabara

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Daphnia

Preferred Common Name

  • water flea

International Common Names

  • English: common water flea

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Metazoa
  •         Phylum: Arthropoda
  •             Subphylum: Crustacea
  •                 Class: Branchiopoda
  •                     Order: Cladocera
  •                         Family: Daphniidae
  •                             Genus: Daphnia

Description

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Daphnia can be found in almost any permanent body of water. They are mainly freshwater and densely populate most lakes and ponds. They live as plankton in the open water of lakes, or live either attached to vegetation or near the bottom of the body of water (Miller, 2000).

Four distinct periods may be recognized in the life history of Daphnia:



  1. egg
  2. juvenile
  3. adolescent
  4. adult.

The mode of reproduction of Daphnia is alternating asexual (parthenogenic) and sexual (Curtis and Barnes, 1989). Daphnia multiply by parthenogenesis when their food is abundant, following which, in response to an environmental cue, both males and females are produced (Curtis and Barnes, 1989). The asexual phase occurs when rapid growth of the Daphnia population is required. The sexual phase results in the creation of ephippial eggs, which are often blown inshore, where they then overwinter. The eggs hatch in the littoral regions the following spring (Hutchinson, 1967; Balcer et al., 1984).

Daphnia have a very high degree of genetic variation even within a single population or species. They are able to change their size and shape in response to their environment and this ability makes it harder to classify these organisms into specific groups (Miller, 2000). Often there seems to be more variation within a species than between species.

Distribution

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Daphnia are extremely widespread and common throughout the world. Daphnia pulex is the most common species of the water flea, an organism which can be found in almost every permanent, eutrophic (nutrient-rich) water body. A few species are marine, but generally Daphnia, including Daphnia pulex, are freshwater organisms (Miller, 2000).

Climate

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ClimateStatusDescriptionRemark
A - Tropical/Megathermal climate Preferred Average temp. of coolest month > 18°C, > 1500mm precipitation annually
C - Temperate/Mesothermal climate Preferred Average temp. of coldest month > 0°C and < 18°C, mean warmest month > 10°C

Natural enemies

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Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Galaxias maculatus Predator Adult
Gobiomorphus cotidianus Predator Adult

Impact Summary

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CategoryImpact
Fisheries / aquaculture Positive

Impact: Biodiversity

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Daphnia may have an indirect impact on the biodiversity. They are often used as a food source for aquarium fish and although some of these are raised specifically for this purpose, many are harvested from lakes or ponds. Although this practice is unlikely to erradicate all Daphnia species, it could damage some rare populations with a limited range (Miller, 2000).

References

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Balcer MD; Korda NL; Dodson SI, 1984. Zooplankton of the Great Lakes. USA: University of Wisconsin Press.

Clare J, 2002. Daphnia: An aquarist’s guide. Caudata Online at www.caudata.org/daphnia/. Accessed 30 January 2005.

Curtis H; Barnes NS, 1989. Biology: Fifth Edition. New York: Worth Publishers, Inc. New York.

Davison J, 1969. Activation of the ephippial egg of Daphnia magna for insecticide bioassay. J. Econ. Entom., 57: 821-825.

FAO, 1996. Cladocerans, nematodes and trochophora larvae. In: Lavens P, Sorgeloos P, eds. Manual on the Production and Use of Live Food for Aquaculture. Rome, Italy: FAO, FAO Fisheries Technical Paper 361.

Hutchinson GE, 1967. A treatise on limnology Vol. II. New York: John Wiley and Sons.

Miller C, 2000. Daphnia pulex. Animal Diversity Online. Online at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Daphnia_pulex.html . Accessed January 28 2005.

Contributors

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06/03/2008 Updated by:

James Stoeckel, Auburn University, Dept. of Fisheries & Allied Aquacultures, 203 Swingle Hall, Auburn, Alabama 36849, USA

Main Author
Sunil Siriwardena
Institute of Aquaculture, University of Stirling, Stirling, FK9 4LA, UK