Resurrection ecology – Bringing the past back to life

Meet a Daphnia: This microscope enlargement gives a close-up view of a Daphnia. Researchers can study changes in Daphnia genetics and behavior to learn how lakes have evolved over the course of time.
Meet a Daphnia: This microscope enlargement gives a close-up view of a Daphnia. Researchers can study changes in Daphnia genetics and behavior to learn how lakes have evolved over the course of time.Courtesy SMM
There’s even more time travel involved with a little bit of Frankenstein thrown in on the side—bringing the dead back to life. Additional information is being gleaned through resurrection ecology where researchers hatch long-dormant eggs from lake sediments to study animals as they existed decades or even centuries ago. Those creatures can be compared to their present day descendants to see how they’ve evolved and adapted over a known period of time.

This approach allows researchers to get right into the DNA of the creatures to see how their genetics have changed. That’s not possible in more traditional evolutionary comparisons that are made using only fossils. One of the best creatures to bring back to life from lake mud is Daphnia. Click to the next page to learn why.