Current number of accepted species: 14,848
What is a copepod?
These small aquatic crustaceans are very diverse and are the most numerous metazoans in the water community ("metazoan" means all multi-celled animals). Copepod habitats range from fresh water to hypersaline conditions, from subterranean caves to water collected in bromeliad leaves or leaf litter on the ground and from streams, rivers, and lakes to the sediment layer in the open ocean. Their habitats also range from the highest mountains to the deepest ocean trenches and from the cold polar ice-water interface to the hot active hydrothermal vents. Copepods may be free-living, symbiotic, or internal or external parasites on almost every phylum of animals in water. The usual length of adults is 1-2 mm, but adults of some species may be as short as 0.2mm and others may be as long as 10mm or even longer in the case of parasites. Ecologically the planktonic copepods are important links in the aquatic food chain linking microscopic algal cells to juvenile fish to whales. Copepods also have the potential to act as control mechanisms for malaria by consuming mosquito larvae, and contrariwise are intermediate hosts of many human and animal parasites. Although they belong to a separate class of crustaceans, Branchiura (commonly referred to as fish lice) are dealt with here along with the Copepoda, since many copepod researchers also study these external parasites of fish and amphibians. Most live in freshwater but a few species are marine. Together the Copepoda and Bracnhiura comprise over 250 described families; 2,600 genera and over 21,000 described species (both valid and invalid, including senior and junior synonyms).
The Subclass Copepoda traditionally comprises 10 Orders**:
**There is uncertainty and scientific debate over the validity of some orders, in particular the Monstrilloida and Poecilostomatoida.
The Class Branchiura comprises 1 Family (the Argulidae) and 4 valid genera:
NEW TAXONOMIC INFORMATION (Lists all taxa in a genus and who published on them)
Recently we have added 2 valuable information resources to this site: the C.B. Wilson and J.S. Ho 3x5 taxonomic card collections. These are files of the 3x5 card collections of these 2 researchers that have been scanned Slava Ivanenko & Chad Walter, and saved as pdf files. The Wilson cards were started by Charles B. Wilson in the 1890's when he started recording all copepod taxa and any publications that mentioned the taxa. These cards had been kept up to date till about 1999 by staff at the Smithsonian Institution. With the advent of the various web based information services we stopped maintaining these cards. These cards are an invaluable resource as they record all the sources of literature that mention a specific taxa within a genus. The J.S. Ho cards were started by Ju Shey Ho and are based primarily on the taxonomy of parasitic copepods and include the synonomies of the taxa. Both of these data sources can be found under 'Links' on the genus page of the copepod taxa. Just search on a genus and then click on the 3x5 taxonomic card link and a pdf will appear providing you with all known publications referring to the copepod genus and all the species reported on, typically including the pages, figures, plates and or table information.
EditorsT. Chad Walter
Smithsonian Institution; Department of Invertebrate Zoology
Museum Support Center,
4210 Silver Hill Road
Suitland, MD 20746 USA
Natural History Museum; Department of Zoology
London, SW7 5BD, UK
Associate EditorsFamily Oncaeidae
Moorsehdener Weg 8
24211 Rastorf-Rosenfeld, Germany
California State University
Department of Biology
1250 Bellflower Blvd.
Long Beach, California 90840, USA
Family Asterocheridae and Dirivultidae
Moscow State Univesity
Department of Invertebrate Zoology, Biological Faculty
Leninskie Gory, 1-12
Moscow 119992, Russia
Distribution planktonic/hyperbenthic copepods
Juliana H.M. Kouwenberg
University of Amsterdam, Zoological Museum
1092 AD Amsterdam, The Netherlands
El Colegio de la Frontera Sur (ECOSUR)
Unidad Chetumal. Av. Centanario Km 5.5
Chetumal, Quintana Roo 77014.
The University of Western Australia
School of Animal Biology (M092)
35 Stirling Highway
Crawley Western Australia 6009 Australia
Families Laophontidae and Ancorabolidae
Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences,
Department of Invertebrates
B-1000 Brussels, Belgium
Families Canthocamptidae and Parastenocarididae
University of Vienna; Faculty of Life Sciences
Vienna Ecology Center; Department of Limnology and Oceanography
The Wilson and Monoculus Libraries
The bibliographic database was developed and is maintained by staff of the C.B. Wilson Copepod library, and contains all the known literature for copepods and branchiurans. At present over 53,700 bibliographic entries on copepods are in the database. Current staff members organizing the day to day operations of this Library are T. Chad Walter, Frank D. Ferrari, and Lana Ong. Janet Reid also provides significant input into this web site. We gratefully accept donations of literature on all aspects of the Copepoda, and request that you send us a copy of all your future publications. If you provide us with your pdf's or reprints in a timely fashion then we can quickly put your taxonomic information into the WoRMS database.
The Monoculus Library is located at the Forschungsinstitut Senckenberg – DZMB,Suedstrand 44, Wilhelmshaven , D-6382, Germany, attn: Pedro Martinez Arbizu. The Wilson Library is located at the Smithsonian Institution, Museum Support Center, MRC 534, 4210 Silver Hill Road, Suitland, MD 20746 USA, attn: Chad Walter.
Copepod Links for further information about copeopds.
To subscribe to the Copepod List Serve and join in discussions of strategic and key issues in the wide range of copepod research, send an email message with your name and address to:
Below are a few other sites dealing with Copepods: [Use your web search engines and search on copepod for additional sites.]
- World Association of Copepodologists
- PDF's of Major Copepod Books, Sars, Giesbrecht, Brady, T.Scott
- U.S. National Parasite Collection
- Copepod Web Portal
- Copepod Biology
- Bromeliad Copepods
- The Virtual Copepod Page
- Keys to Copepod Families
- Keys for Identification of Harpacticoids
- Keys to Great Lakes Copepods
- Monoculus Newsletters
- Marine Plankton Copepods
This database was originally housed at the Smithsonian Institution, as the World of Copepods website, which was just a flat file database. That database was migrated into WoRMS since this is a relational database that allows for: linking synonymies, distributions, hosts, images, literature sources and specimen data. In addition, it allows for multiple editors to correct and edit data. In order to provide sufficient expert knowledge for maintaining the list, we have formed an editorial committee which will be editing and improving this database. This database will hopefully promote the stability in copepod nomenclature and act as a tool for higher taxonomic revisions and regional monographs and then provide a base link for other online databases that use copepod nomenclature.
By downloading or consulting data from this website, the visitor acknowledges that he/she agrees to the following:
If data are extracted from this website for secondary analysis resulting in a publication, the website should be cited as follows:
- Walter, T.C. & Boxshall, G. (2013). World of Copepods database. Accessed at http://www.marinespecies.org/copepoda on 2013-12-04
If any data constitutes a substantial proportion of the records used in secondary analyses (i.e. more than 25% of the data are derived from this source, or the data are essential to arrive at the conclusion of the analysis), the authors/managers of the database should be contacted. It may be useful to contact us directly in case there are additional data that may strengthen the analysis or there are features of the data that are important to consider but may not have been apparent from the metadata.