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Cyclops – Habitat, Morphology, Diagram

What is Cyclops?

  • Cyclops, a genus of freshwater copepods, is a diverse group comprising over 400 species. These small crustaceans are commonly referred to as water fleas, along with other similar-sized non-copepod freshwater crustaceans, especially cladocera. The name Cyclops is derived from Greek mythology, referencing the creatures’ single large eye, which can be either red or black.
  • Found in freshwater ponds, lakes, and slightly brackish estuarine waters, Cyclops are considered zooplankton. They play a crucial role in aquatic ecosystems. Interestingly, Cyclops serve as an intermediate host for the guinea worm, Dracunculus medinensis.
  • The life cycle of the guinea worm involves the release of coiled larvae into water by rupturing the blister on human skin. The larvae are then ingested by Cyclops. A single Cyclops can ingest a considerable number of guinea worm larvae, which then develop within the Cyclops.
  • Infected Cyclops typically die within 42 days, although heavy infections can lead to death in as little as 15 days. During their time in the Cyclops, the larvae moult twice and become infective within three weeks. Upon ingestion by humans, the larvae escape and mature into adult worms in the subcutaneous tissues.
  • Aside from the guinea worm, Cyclops also serve as the intermediate host for Diphyllobothrium latum, an intestinal helminth parasite of humans. The life cycle of D. latum involves the release of fertilised eggs into water through the faeces of the definitive host (humans). These eggs develop into ciliated embryos or larvae called coracidium within a week or two.
  • The mature coracidium is ingested by a Cyclops, where it loses its cilia and penetrates the intestinal wall to reach the body cavity of the Cyclops. Inside the body cavity, it metamorphoses into an elongated solid body with a caudal spherical appendage containing six hooks, known as the Precoracoid larva. Two larvae typically develop within a single Cyclops. The Cyclops, now containing the developing larvae, is then consumed by the second intermediate host, a freshwater fish.
Cyclops
Cyclops

Definition of Cyclops

Cyclops are a genus of freshwater copepods characterized by their single large eye, named after the mythical creature from Greek mythology. They are commonly referred to as water fleas and play important roles in freshwater ecosystems, serving as intermediate hosts for various parasites such as the guinea worm and Diphyllobothrium latum.

Habitat of Cyclops

  • Distribution: Cyclops has a cosmopolitan distribution in freshwater environments, meaning it is found across the globe in fresh water. However, it is less frequently found in brackish water, which is water that is slightly salty.
  • Preferred Environment: Cyclops is commonly found along the plant-covered banks of stagnant and slow-flowing bodies of water. These environments provide the necessary conditions for Cyclops to thrive, including food sources and shelter.
  • Feeding Behavior: Cyclops feeds on small fragments of plant material, animals such as nematodes, and carrion. This feeding behavior is essential for its survival and growth.
  • Movement: Cyclops swims with characteristic jerky movements, which are distinctive and help differentiate it from other organisms in its environment.
  • Adaptation to Unsuitable Conditions: Cyclops has the remarkable ability to survive in unsuitable conditions by forming a cloak of slime. This slime protects it from adverse environmental conditions, allowing it to survive until conditions improve.
  • Lifespan: The average lifespan of Cyclops is about three months, although this can vary depending on environmental factors and available resources.

Morphology of Cyclops

  1. Size: Cyclops individuals typically range from 0.5 to 5 millimeters in length.
  2. Body Structure: The body of Cyclops is clearly divided into two sections:
    • The front section is broadly oval and includes the head and the first five thoracic segments.
    • The hind part is considerably slimmer and consists of the sixth thoracic segment and the four legless pleonic segments.
  3. Caudal Appendages: Two caudal appendages project from the rear of the body.
  4. Legs: Although they may be difficult to observe, Cyclops have five pairs of legs.
  5. Antennae: Cyclops possess two long first antennae, which are used by males for gripping females during mating.
  6. Reproductive Features: After mating, the female Cyclops carries the eggs in two small sacs on her body.
  7. Life Stage: The larvae, or nauplii, of Cyclops are free-swimming and unsegmented.

Cyclops diagram

cyclops diagram
cyclops diagram

Control of Cyclops

  • Physical Removal: In small bodies of water, Cyclops can be physically removed using filtration methods or by manually scooping them out. This method is labor-intensive but can be effective in reducing their population.
  • Chemical Control: Chemicals such as copper sulfate or temephos can be used to control Cyclops populations. These chemicals are toxic to Cyclops and can be applied to water bodies in a controlled manner to reduce their numbers. However, this method can have negative effects on non-target organisms and should be used carefully.
  • Biological Control: Introducing natural predators of Cyclops, such as certain species of fish or other aquatic organisms, can help control their population. This method is more environmentally friendly than chemical control but may not be as effective in all situations.
  • Environmental Management: Managing the environment in which Cyclops thrive can help control their population. This can include reducing nutrient inputs that promote their growth, maintaining water flow to prevent stagnation, and removing excess vegetation that provides habitat for Cyclops.
  • Integrated Pest Management (IPM): IPM combines multiple control methods to manage Cyclops populations in a sustainable manner. This approach considers the ecology of Cyclops and aims to minimize their impact while preserving the overall ecosystem balance.

References

  • https://www.biologydiscussion.com/invertebrate-zoology/arthropods/morphology-of-cyclops-with-diagram/62332
  • https://uwm.edu/field-station/bug-of-the-week/cyclops/#:~:text=Within%20the%20crustacea%2C%20cyclops%20(which,comprised%20of%20about%2013%2C000%20species).

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