Leptodora kindtii (The giant water flea)
Collected: May 2004 in Upper Chesapeake Bay off of Hart-Miller Island using an epibenthic sled fitted with a 365 micrometer mesh plankton net.
Notes: Leptodora is the largest known cladoceran. It dwarfs other marine and brackish species. This, transparent cladoceran is quite unlike most familiar water fleas. It is widespread in freshwater lakes in Europe and the U.S., but published reports from brackish waters are rare, perhaps due to its tendency to remain near the bottom during the day.
It is ofter abundant in the spring in low salinity (1-10 psu) tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay.
Biology and Ecology: Unlike other cladocerans, brood are released at the nauplius stage. A predator of other zooplankton, Leptodora is a favorite food of stripped bass up to 45 cm (18”) long in some Maryland reservoirs. Its role in estuarine food chains remains unstudied.
Identification reference: Balcer, M.D. et al. 1984. Zooplankton of the Great Lakes. University of Wisconsin Press.
Collected by Marilyn Yorgey, Goucher College