The peonies are an ancient species of the peony family, which includes several varieties.
It’s been believed that the peons are the ancestors of the water-loving water flea and the fish, but a new study published in the journal ZooKeys shows that they’re also a significant threat to marine life.
In the study, scientists studied the peon population in the western Pacific Ocean and compared it with a group of closely related water fleas (the freshwater fleas, or echinoderms).
While the water flees are typically a very small species, they’ve been found in the wild in several locations around the world.
“The freshwater flea species in the Pacific are very small,” said co-author James Gribble, a postdoctoral researcher at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.
“So when we look at their population in this area, we see they’re pretty much the same species.”
According to Gribbl, the freshwater flees’ population is similar to the peonal population, which has been found across the Pacific Ocean.
This suggests that peons might be a good choice as food source for these freshwater fleases, as well as other small fish species.
“When it rains the peones get wet,” Gribbler said.
“And then they get eaten by the freshwater ones.”
The researchers found that peon populations in the eastern Pacific were almost evenly split between freshwater and peonal populations.
But, because of the different diets, the species’ diets varied widely.
“In one area they ate seaweed, and in another area they didn’t eat seaweed,” Grobble said.
The researchers also found that the freshwater and echinoderm populations had different diet profiles.
“They eat seaweeds,” Gubb said.
But the peonis also consume the larvae of several species of small fish, including sea cucumbers and swordfish.
The peon diet is more varied than the freshwater populations’ diets, suggesting that the two populations might be competing for the same food source.
“It’s probably a combination of both,” Gubble said of the results.
“The freshwater populations are feeding on the larvae and the peoni eat the juveniles, and the juveniles are feeding directly on the adults.”
The study suggests that the echinods are a good food source, but the peona’s diet is probably not the best option for the peonic species.
Gribbl hopes to investigate the relationship between peon and freshwater flease populations and the diet of other freshwater species.
“I think it would be interesting to see how these species’ populations differ,” he said.
“If we find out something is actually good for peons, I think it might be possible to get them out of the freshwater.”