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Fairy Shrimp Essay

872 words - 4 pages

Fairy shrimp are about 1/2 to 1 1/2 inch crustaceans swimming upside down. They have two sets of antennae and 11 pairs of leaf-like swimming legs. The colors of the shrimp are determined by the substances of the food source in the pool which the shrimp inhabit, it is usually constant among the beings of the waterway.
Male shrimp have an enlarged second antenna used to catch the female during mating. Female fairy shrimp often have a litter sack on their abdomen. There are normally more females than males. They are capable of three states of movement; hidden at the bottom of the water, zipping quickly and drifting gradually. The shrimp push themselves with a wave-like anterior-posterior ...view middle of the document...

The winter eggs remain in the mud at the base of the water and dry out with the water. The eggs will hatch in the spring when the water replenishes. However, the inactive period usually differs between 6 to 10 months; eggs have been hatched in a laboratory after 15 years. Eggs have been exposed to temperatures of as high as 99C and as low as -190 C and remained workable. Winter eggs usually hatch 30 hours after being exposed to water.
Normally, one generation occupies each wet period of the water. Fairy shrimp usually hatch as nauplius. The young will mature in a series of instars. Each instar involves shedding the exoskeleton to grow more parts until they reach the 20 parts of adults. Growth is often quick in the spring, but can be reduced by abnormally low temperatures. The speed of growth generally reflects the amount of time water will remain in the waterway, or the arrival of predators in the water. Young which have hatched from winter eggs mature more gradually than those that have hatched from summer eggs. Fairy shrimp can complete their life cycle in 16 days. This permits for quick reproduction.
Winter eggs can be transported from waterway to waterway by roaming animals, or, in the case of waterways that dry out completely, picked up in the wind and be blown to other waterways. For explanations currently unknown to scientists, there is an irregular level of population in a waterway from year to year. In a single waterway, fairy shrimp may be ample for several sequential years and absent the next.
The leg movements serve the purpose of...

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