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Diving insects boost their buoyancy bubbles

Nature volume 441, page 171 (11 May 2006) | Download Citation



Backswimmers (Notonectidae) are common diving insects found around the world that exploit the mid-water zone for predation — they breathe by using an air bubble collected at the surface. Here we show that backswimmers achieve prolonged periods of neutral buoyancy by using oxygen stored in their haemoglobin to stabilize the volume of the bubble as they breathe from it. This enables them to maintain their position in the water column without continually swimming.

Underwater backswimmers use their haemoglobin to help them stay stationary while waiting for prey.

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  1. Environmental Biology, University of Adelaide, Adelaide 5005, Australia

    • Philip G. D. Matthews
    •  & Roger S. Seymour


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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Correspondence to Philip G. D. Matthews.

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