Thursday, July 30, 2009

Life Photo Meme: Parasitic

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Arthropoda


Order: Isopoda

Family: Bopyridae

For my parasitic photo I could not resist putting up these. They are ghost shrimp, and the ghost shrimp on the top is a healthy female with eggs, while the pale one on the bottom is a female infected with Ione cornuta. The parasite is under the exoskeleton, but can be seen as a large lump on the side of the shrimp (right side).

This parasite goes through a rather complex life cycle, where if goes through a couple of different hosts before ending up in ghost shrimp. The first Ione to land on the shrimp's gills will become a female and the second one a male. They spend the rest of their lives in the shrimp's gill chamber, and grow with the shrimp.

While I seem to lack a photo of Ione outside of it's host, I do have a picture of a very closely related parasite Orthione, which looks and acts very much like Ione, save that it lives in mud shrimp instead of ghost shrimp.

(The little curled-up part towards the bottom left is the male, he is much smaller than the female and generally lives on her)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Life Photo Meme: Arid

Kingdom: Plantae

Division: Magnoliophyta


Order: Caryphyllales

Family: Cactaceae

This is a golden barrel cactus (Echinocactus grusonii). They can live for at least 75 years, and don't produce flowers until they reach 20 years of age. They can grow to 3 ft (1 m) high and 2 ft wide (0.6 m).

While they are used widely in cultivation, these plants are considered critically endangered in their native home range of Central America. There does not seem to be a lot of information on these plants... In the Huntington library and gardens (where this photo was taken), all of the golden barrels on display had been cultivated from seeds. I don't know if the secondary growths on this cactus are new plants, but I suspect that it is so.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Life Photo Meme: Spiny

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Actinoptergii

Order: Scorpaeniformes

Family: Cyclopteridae

This is my all-time favorite fish, the Pacific spiny lumpsucker (Eumicrotremus orbis). They are found in shallow waters and seldom go deeper than 500 ft (152 m). They are found in northern waters from Washington up to Alaska, and also off the coast of Japan. They are so small and cute. The largest they can get is 5 in (13 cm), while your average lumpsucker is 1 in (2.5 cm)

They are very poor swimmers, owing to their round body and small fins. They also lack a swim bladder, so when they stop swimming they sink. What is most distinctive about them is the large suction cup that they have. The suction cup is a pair of highly modified pelvic fins, that helps them stick onto rocks.

The females tend to have a greenish hue to the plates that cover their body, while the males have a red tint. They eat small crustaceans and worms.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Life Photo Meme: Honor an invert

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Arthropoda

Class: Malacostraca

Order: Decapoda

Family: Pandalidae

This are newly settled spot prawns (Pandalus platyceros). They are only a month old in this picture and about 1/4 of an inch (4 mm) in size. The adult spot prawn get to be 10.5 in (27 cm) long and are considered to be the largest shrimp on the west coast of the US. Spot prawns start out their lives as male, then switch to females as they get older. They can live for about 6 years in California and up to 11 years in Alaska.

They are on the Monterey Bay's Seafood Watch best choice list as spot prawns are often caught in traps, rather than nets like normal-sized shrimp. Dragging nets along the bottom of the sea floor often causes damage to the habitat and produces a lot of by-catch, as many other animals are caught along with the shrimp. Using traps minimizes by-catch and damage to the surrounding habitat.