Behavioural and physiological mechanisms behind extreme longevity in Daphnia
Hydrobiologia, 715:1, 125–134 (2013)
The combined effect of external environment and energy allocation strategy of the organism on longevity can be exceptional. In a cold oligotrophic fishless habitat, individual Daphnia can live for over a year, several times the usual Daphnia lifespan. This extreme lifespan is in part a consequence of the overwintering strategywhich includes storing resources and delaying reproduction until another spring. Yet, contrasting strategies may be applied by Daphnia, resulting in over twofold differences in lifespan within a single habitat. We identify physiological mechanisms mediating such differences in longevity in closely related Daphnia of two lineages coexisting within a high altitude lake, testing the predictions that long-lived animals stay in colder waters and have lower metabolic rates, irrespective of temperature. Vertical distribution of the animals was assessed during three summer stratification seasons, and metabolic activity was measured as oxygen consumption andRNA:DNAratio. The results not only support our predictions but also reveal that habitat choice is dependent on reproductive status rather than genotype. The young individuals of the overwintering lineagemay delay reproduction in part by staying in colder waters than the reproducing adults, which together with low intrinsic metabolic rates may underlie the longevity of Daphnia of this lineage.