Daphnia lumholtzi
(a waterflea)
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Daphnia lumholtzi G.O. Sars, 1885

Common name: a waterflea

Synonyms and Other Names: water-flea, water flea

Taxonomy: available through www.itis.govITIS logo

Identification: The most distinguishing characteristics of this daphnia are the long helmet and tail spines. The helmet is much larger than the native species and the tailspine is normally as long as the body length. Other distinct characteristics are the fornices that extend to a sharp point instead of being rounded and the ventral carapace margin which has approximately 10 prominent spines (Havel and Hebert 1993).

Size: 3.5 mm in length

Native Range: Tropical and subtropical lakes in east Africa, east Australia, and the Asian subcontinent of India (Havel and Hebert 1993). 

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Nonindigenous Occurrences: Daphnia lumholtzi has been detected in 56 reservoirs in the southern and midwestern United States. The earliest record is from Texas in 1990 (Havel, pers. comm.). It has since been found in localized waters leading into major river drainages such as the: Arkansas, Cumberland, Illinois, Mississippi, Missouri, South Atlantic-Gulf, Tennessee, and Texas-Gulf. Occurrences of D. lumholtzi in these waters fall in the following states: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota/Wisconsin, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Utah (Havel and Shurin 2004; D. Jackson; J.A. Stoeckel; M.A. Pegg; J.S. Kuwabara). In August of 1999 it was discovered for the first time in the Great Lakes, Lake Erie, just north of Lakeside, Ohio (Muzinic 2000). 

Ecology: It is most likely that D. lumholtzi has become a successful invader because of its ability to avoid predation, not because it is a better competitor for the available food supply. Stomach samples of fish from Norris Reservoir contained no D. lumholtzi (Goulden et al. 1995). Work and Gophen (1999) note three aspects of D. lumholtzi that have most likely contributed to its success as an invader in North America. First, due to its tropical to subtropical native range, D. lumholtzi is adapted to higher temperatures than is native Daphnia. Second, D. lumholtzi is adapted to disturbed areas, giving it an invasion advantage (according to invasion theory). Third, the long helmet and tail spine helps D. lumholtzi avoid predation.

Like other Daphnia, D. lumholtzi produces ephippia (resting eggs). All ephippia are resistant to adverse environmental conditions and can lay dormant in sediment for long periods of time delaying hatching until optimal conditions are present. The ephippia of D. lumholtzi have hairs and spines that could grip boats or other objects and thus aid dispersal (Dzialowski et al. 2000).

Means of Introduction: It is uncertain how D. lumholtzi was introduced into the U.S. It is suspected that it may have been transported with shipments of Nile perch from Lake Victoria in Africa where it is a dominant zooplankter. Nile perch was originally introduced into Texas as early as 1983 (Havel and Hebert 1993). The continuing discovery of D. lumholtzi in new locations could be due to contaminated stockings of fish through international commercial trade. At the same time, the close proximity of affected reservoirs in Missouri and in Texas might lead to the conclusion that D. lumholtzi may have spread by recreational boating from the initially infested reservoirs. 

Dzialowski et al. (2000) found that non-human dispersal mechanisms had little to do with the spread of D. lumholtzi in Kansas. D. lumholtzi was not detected in small ponds inaccessible to boats, even though the ponds were within watersheds where D. lumholtzi was established (Dzialowski et al. 2000). Because of rapid and widespread introductions, D. lumholtzi may become a dominant zooplankter in the southern U.S. (Havel et al. 1995).

Status: Daphnia lumholtzi has been collected for several consecutive years in Norris Reservoir (part of the Tennessee River system in Tennessee) and in several reservoirs in Missouri. The range of D. lumholtzi is expanding throughout eastern Kansas (Dzialowski et al. 2000)

Impact of Introduction: The impacts of this invader are not yet fully understood. It competes with native daphnia for food and of its ability to avoid predation (U.S.EPA 2008).   

Studies that have compared native Daphnia to the exotic D. lumholtzi have found that competition between these species is lower than expected. D. lumholtzi is a tropical species, and is adapted to warmer temperatures than native North American Daphnia. Thus D. lumholtzi population sizes tend to rise in late summer when native Daphnia populations are dropping. Thus D. lumholtzi tends to fill a vacant "temporal niche" in the warmer summer months (Johnson and Havel 2001; Work and Gophen 1999; Dzialowski et al. 2000; Goulden et al. 1995; East et al. 1999). Dzialowski et al. (2000) hypothesized that by occupying a niche that was previously unexploited by Daphnia, D. lumholtzi competed with non-daphnid zooplankton otherwise able to obtain resources during that time. One such zooplankter was Diaphanasoma, whose population was found to be significantly lower in reservoirs of Kansas where D. lumholtzi had invaded (Dzialowski et al. 2000). If D. lumholzi has a negative impact on other native zooplankton populations in late summer, this may have a detrimental effect on fishes that depend on zooplankton at that time period but are not able to handle the spines of D. lumholtzi.

Larval and juvenile stages of fish that overlap with high D. lumholtzi populations are more likely to be negatively impacted by D. lumtoltzi due to gape limitation (Kolar and Wahl 1998). Leinesch and Gophen (2001) noted that fish large enough to handle D. lumholtzi spines would have a new prey item with a larger overall body size than the zooplankton normally present in the later summer months. Lemke et al. (2003) studied four fish species that consumed more D. lumholtzi as fish size increased (blue gill, white bass, white crappie, and black crappie of Lake Chautauqua, Illinois). Silversides (Menidia beryllina) may be able to utilize this new prey item and survive longer during their late summer spawning period (Leinesch and Gophen 2001). Leinesch and Gophen (2001) hypothesized that when growing juvenile fish become capable of handling D. lumholtzi, the fish can grow more rapidly and reduce their risk of predation.

Remarks: Nutrient and resource levels in lakes likely play a large role in the presence and spread of D. lumholtzi throughout the United States, though research on mechanism is unclear. Dzialowski et al. (2000) suggested that low resource (algae) levels aid D. lumholtzi invasion because it is better able to take advantage of low quality food resources than small competitors, but Havel et al. (1995) found that reservoirs invaded by D. lumholtzi had much higher levels of nutrients than non-invaded reservoirs. Further research is warranted to clarify discrepancies.


References: (click for full references)

Acharya, K., J.D. Jack, and A.S. Smith. 2006. Stoichiometry of Daphnia lumholtzi and their invasion success: Are they linked? Archiv für Hydrobiologie 165(4): 433-453.

Dzialowski, A.R., W.J. O'Brien, and S.M. Swaffar. 2000. Range expansion and potential dispersal mechanisms of the exotic cladoceran Daphnia lumholtzi. Journal of Plankton Research 22(12): 2205-2223.

East, T.L., K.E. Havens, A.J. Rodusky, and M.A. Brady. 1999. Daphnia lumholtzi and Daphnia ambigua: population comparisons of an exotic and a native cladoceran in Lake Okeechobee, Florida. Journal of Plankton Research 21(8): 1537-1551.

Frisch, D., and L.J. Weider. 2010. Seasonal shifts in genotype frequencies in the invasive cladoceran Daphnia lumholtzi in Lake Texoma, U.S.A. Freshwater Biology 55(6): 1327-1336.

Goulden, C.L., D. Tomljanovich, D. Kreeger, and E. Corney. The invasion of Daphnia lumholtzi Sars (Cladocera, Daphniidae) into a North American reservoir. Pages 9-38 In: Hamilton, S.W., D.S. White, E.W. Chester, and A.F. Scott (eds.). 1995. Proceedings of the sixth symposium on the natural history of the lower Tennessee and Cumberland River Valleys. The Center for Field Biology, Austin Peay State University, Clarksville, Tennessee.

Havel, J.E. - Missouri State University, Springfield, MO.

Havel, J.E., and P.D.N. Hebert. 1993. Daphnia lumholtzi in North America: another exotic zooplankter. Limnology and Oceanography 38:1837-1841.

Havel, J.E., W.R. Mabee, and J.R. Jones. 1995. Invasion of the exotic cladoceran Daphnia lumholtzi into North American reservoirs. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 52:151-160.

Havel, J.E., and J.B. Shurin. 2004. Mechanisms, effects, and scales of dispersal in freshwater zooplankton. Limnology and Oceanography 49:1229-1238.

Havel, J.E., and K.M. Medley. 2006. Biological invasions across spatial scales: intercontinental, regional, and local dispersal of cladoceran zooplankton. Biological Invasions 8: 459-473.

Johnson, J.L., and J.E. Havel. 2001. Competition between native and exotic Daphnia: in situ experiments. Journal of Plankton Research 23(4): 373-387.

Kolar, C.S., and D.H. Wahl. 1998. Daphnid morphology deters fish predators. Oecologia 116: 556-564.

Kuwabara, J. S. – U.S. Geological Survey, Menlo Park, CA.

Lemke, A.M., J.A. Stoekel, and M.A. Pegg. 2003. Utilization of the exotic cladoceran Daphnia lumholtzi by juvenile fishes in an Illinois River floodplain lake. Journal of Fish Biology 62: 938-954.

Lennon, J.T., V.H. Smith, and A.r. Dzialowski. 2003. Invasibility of plankton food webs along a trophic state gradient. Oikos 103: 191-203.

Lienesch, P.W., and M. Gophen. 2001. Predation by inland silversides on an exotic cladoceran, Daphnia lumholtzi, in Lake Texoma, U.S.A. 59: 1249-1257.

Muzinic, C.J. 2000. First record of Daphnia lumholtzi Sars in the Great Lakes. Journal of Great Lakes Resarch 26(3): 352-354.

Ontario's Invading Species Awareness Program. Spiny and Fishhook Waterfleas. http://www.invadingspecies.com/invaders/invertebrates/spiny-and-fishhook-waterflea/. Accessed on 05/31/2013.

Pegg, M.A. – University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE.

Soeken-Gittinger, L.A., J.A. Stoeckel, and J.E. Havel. 2009. Differing effects of suspended sediments on the performance of native and exotic Daphnia. Freshwater Biology 54: 495-504. 

Stoeckel, J.A. – Auburn University, Auburn, AL.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA). 2008. Predicting future introductions of nonindigenous species to the Great Lakes. National Center for Environmental Assessment, Washington, DC; EPA/600/R-08/066F. Available from the National Technical Information Service, Springfield, VA, and http://www.epa.gov/ncea.

Work, K.A., and M. Gophen. 1999. Factors which affect the abundance of an invasive cladoceran, Daphnia lumholtzi, in U.S. reservoirs. Freshwater Biology 42: 1-10.

Author: Benson, A., E. Maynard, D. Raikow, J. Larson, T.H. Makled and A. Fusaro

Revision Date: 6/6/2013

Citation Information:
Benson, A., E. Maynard, D. Raikow, J. Larson, T.H. Makled and A. Fusaro. 2017. Daphnia lumholtzi. USGS Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL.
https://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/factsheet.aspx?SpeciesID=164 Revision Date: 6/6/2013

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Citation information: U.S. Geological Survey. [2017]. Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database. Gainesville, Florida. Accessed [3/30/2017].

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