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World Ostracoda Database

What is an ostracod?

Ostracoda are amazing small crustaceans, which inhabit virtually all aquatic environments on Earth. This class of Crustacea is characterized with a body completely enclosed between two mostly calcified valves or shells , giving them a "seed"-like appearance, and therefore the name they are also known by: "seed shrimps" or "mussel shrimps". Ostracods can be found in warm waters of tropical sand beaches, as well as in very cold environments, such as the deep sea or the polar seas (i.e. Arctic and Antarctic). They are also adapted to freshwater temporary ponds (where some of them reproduce asexually by parthenogenesis) and to acid lakes.

Scientific name
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Ostracods are miniature animals, with body length ranging between 0.2 mm and 1.0 mm. The planktonic Gigantocypris can, however, reach 6mm in length. Also the number of limbs (e.g. appendages, legs) is changed from five to eight pairs, depending on the taxon.

A special fact about ostracods is that, because of their calcified valves , they present one of the most extensive fossil records of all, which includes the last 425 million years! Because of this, ostracods reveal detailed information on the history of our planet, including many climatic changes.

From the original description, author: Benson, R.
Luprisca incuba Holotype YPM 307300 Ventral view, author: Perrier, Vincent
Original description of <i>Trachyleberis niitsumai</i> Ishizaki, 1971, author: Brandão, Simone Nunes
Paramollicia rhynchena, author: AWI / Solvin Zankl
Holotype of Hemicythere confragosa Edwards, 1944, author: Brandão, Simone Nunes

The class encloses over 33,000 described species and subspecies (see Kempf Ostracoda Database for details), and many more species remain unknown to science. There are two subclasses with living representatives: Myodocopa and Podocopa. The first subclass is exclusive to marine environments, but occupies the benthos as well as the plankton, while podocopans occur in marine, brackish and freshwater environments and occupies almost exclusively benthos (but also the benthopelagic zone).

This World Ostracoda Database is part of the World Register of Marine Species (WoRMS), a global initiative to provide a register of all names of marine organisms living today (or extinct since a geologically short time).

The present database has the following objectives:

  1. to provide an authoritative list of the world's Ostracoda taxa (species, genera, families…), with focus on the recent taxa, but also with information on fossils,
  2. to provide a list of papers published on ostracods, and
  3. to provide a base link to other online databases.

Editorial board

New editors are very welcome!

Currently (2016-10-25), there are 8,553 accepted species in the database, among 11,663 species and 16,463 taxa names. Our objective is to complete the list of Recent and fossil ostracod taxa up to mid-2013, by increasing the number of entries by 50,000.

Acceptance is an editorial decision, but we acknowledge that such decisions need to be re-examined frequently in the light of new information. If you disagree with synonymies, generic assignments or higher level systematics, or if you find any omission, mistake, or merely a typo, please send us your argument supported opinion. We intend to update this database frequently, so that your corrections will be incorporated.


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:

    Brandão, S. N.; Angel, M. V.; Karanovic, I.; Parker, A.; Perrier, V. & Yasuhara, M. (2016). World Ostracoda Database. Accessed at on 2016-10-25

  • 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.


The International Research Group on Ostracoda

The Ostracoda Lifedesk

An Atlas of Southern Ocean Planktonic Ostracods