Digital Eclipse Image Gallery
Presented below is a photomicrograph of a loricate rotifer belonging to the Lecane genus. This digital image was captured with the DXM 1200 ACT-1 control software in single-image acquisition mode utilizing DIC illumination.
Rotifers of this genus are mostly loricate (having shells) and live in littoral areas of freshwater bodies. They are found in many habitats, grazing among aquatics and algae. The dorsal plates of some of these rotifers are ornamented with ridges and folds, important characteristics in identifying species.
Rotifers are extremely common and can be found in many freshwater environments and in moist soil, where they inhabit the thin films of water surrounding soil particles. Their habitats may include still water environments, such as lake bottoms, as well as rivers or streams. They are also commonly found on mosses and lichens, in rain gutters and puddles, in soil or leaf litter, on mushrooms growing near dead trees, in tanks of sewage treatment plants, and even on freshwater crustaceans and aquatic insect larvae.
Nearly all rotifers have chitinous jaws called trophi that grind and shred food. The trophi are the only part of a rotifer that can be fossilized and have been found in amber dating back to the Eocene epoch (38-55 million years ago).
Many rotifer species have no males, females producing only females (parthenogenesis). In some rotifer species, stress can cause females to produce eggs that hatch as males. They have no mouth or digestive tract and die within hours or days. The appearance of males is followed by sexual reproduction. The females then produce resting eggs, which settle to the bottom to hatch when conditions permit. The tiny eggs can withstand desiccation for considerable periods of time and can be carried by wind or birds to any place that holds water (even bird baths and gutters) where they will hatch.