Filming of zooplankton: a case study of rotifer males and Daphnia magna
Filming live organisms can give new insights into the hidden life of plankton. Accessibly priced digital cameras are now available for a large range of users. Here, we demonstrate the technical setup and workflow of using a single-lens reflex (DSLR) camera to film the behaviour of males of two rotifer species, Brachionus angularis Gosse (1851) and Keratella cochlearis Gosse (1851), and of the cladoceran Daphnia magna Straus (1820). Rotifers are cyclical parthenogens that produce males only under certain environmental conditions. Thus, knowledge on rotifer males is still limited because of their ephemeral nature and because they are often smaller than females. We filmed males of B. angularis and K. cochlearis with a DSLR camera connected to a compound microscope to better understand their morphology and behaviour in comparison to conspecific females. While written descriptions have their scientific value, seeing is complementary because everyone can verify what has been described. We made our videos publicly accessible through links connected to the paper. Our videos are, to our best knowledge, the first on males of B. angularis and K. cochlearis. Furthermore, we filmed the behavioural response of D. magna to ultraviolet (UV) radiation with a macro lens attached to the DSLR camera. Approaches like this are valuable tools in environmental teaching. To see live organisms with one’s own eyes may contribute to raising public awareness about the value of water resources and their hidden communities. In summary, filming can be a valuable tool to ignite scientific discussion, but the videos need an open-access platform where they can be referenced in a topic-related order.
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