Daphnia Heart Beat

Daphnia are small, mostly planktonic, crustaceans, between 0.2 and 5 mm in length. Daphnia are members of the order Cladocera, and are one of the several small aquatic crustaceans commonly called water fleas because of their saltatory swimming style (although fleas are insects and thus only very distantly related). They live in various aquatic environments ranging from acidic swamps to freshwater lakes, ponds, streams and rivers.

Even under relatively low power, it is possible to observe the feeding mechanism working, watch immature young moving in the brood-pouch, observe the eye being moved by the ciliary muscles and even watch blood corpuscles being pumped round the circulatory system by the simple heart. The heart is at the top of the back, just behind the head, and their average heart rate is approximately 180bpm under normal conditions. Daphnia, like many animals, are prone to alcohol intoxication, and make excellent subjects for studying the effects of the depressant on the nervous system – due to the translucent exoskeleton, and the visibly altered heart rate. They are tolerant of being observed live under a cover slip and appear to suffer no harm when returned to open water. This experiment can also be done using caffeine, nicotine or adrenaline and observing an increase in heart rate.

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