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Migration in small aquatic animals

Threat response, plasticity and eco-evolutionary dynamics
A common response to a threat is to move or migrate away from it. Movements and migration of larger animals, like birds and fish, can relatively easily be tracked by devices such as satellite transponders and passive integrated transponder (PIT) tags.

However, with respect to small organisms (1-3 mm), the tracking methods are far from sufficient, and a major problem when studying small organisms is that many questions, which are easily addressed for larger animals, are not possible to even formulate due to that the tracking devices are too heavy to allow the organism to act naturally. This has indeed hampered research on small organisms and has lead to that some research areas still resemble black boxes, such as diel vertical/horizontal migration in zooplankton, escape from threats such as ultraviolet (UV) radiation or predation, and size-structured dispersal.

Our project therefore aims at taking advantage of the recent extremely rapid developments within nanoscience, since nano-sized (10-9 m) objects are easily carried even by small (mm-scale) organisms without affecting their behaviour. Currently, we are performing studies on eco-evolutionary dynamics and individual consistency (”personality”) in behaviour of zooplankton.

The world of Hopfs – A small story about evolution

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Daphnia magna labeled with quantum dots fluorescent at 655 nm.

People involved

Swimming trajectory of quantum dot labeled Daphnia magna during nine minutes of recording.
Swimming trajectory of quantum dot labeled Daphnia magna during nine minutes of recording.

Schematic overview of quantum dot labeling method.

Schematic overview of quantum dot labeling method.

Step A: Quantum dots are conjugated with poly-L-lysine.
Step B: Daphnia is incubated with poly-L-lysine coated quantum dots.
Step C: After labeling excess quantum dots are removed from the solution and labeled Daphnia are ready for behavioral trials.