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Department of Invertebrate Zoology

A drawing by Giesbrecht (1892) of the Copepoda, Sapphirina auronitens Claus, 1863

A drawing by Giesbrecht (1892) of the Copepoda, Sapphirina auronitens Claus, 1863


(Kope = Greek for "oar" Podos = Greek for "foot"). Hence Copepod = oar-footed, referring to the pair of swimming legs on the same somite that are moved together, like the oars of a sculling shell.

Past Events:

link to the World Association of Copepodologists website

The Three Databases

The World of Copepods consists of three databases. These are…

  • Bibliography of All Known Copepod and Branchiura Literature

    As of June 2018 this database is an Archive Copy ONLY. You can still search and download records, but no changes or additions can be made here. For an up-to-date bibliographic dataset please go to our site on WoRMS

  • Taxonomic List of Copepod and Branchiura NEW SITE
  • Copepod and Branchiura Specimen Holdings of Invertebrate Zoology

New Database:

The Taxonomic database of this website has recently been moved into the World Register of Marine Species (WoRMS) database and now is hosted at This database is a growing register of all marine species names, including synonymy and misspellings in common use. It is an authoritative register, and the content is controlled by taxonomic experts, not by data managers. It 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. The editors of this database are Chad Walter and Geoff Boxshall.

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. There are numerous associate editors that will be standardizing and improving the data for groups that they are knowledgable in. This database will hopefully promote stability in copepod nomenclature and act as a tool for highter taxonomic revisions and regional monographs and then provide a base link for other online databases that use copeopd nomenclature.

Use this database for up to date taxonomic information on copepods. This database supersedes both the Genera data and the Species data previously presented at this website.

What is a copepod?

These 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. Ecologically they are important links in the 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. Branchiura (commonly referred to as sea lice) are also included with the Copepoda, since many copepod researchers also study these parasites of fish.

For an introduction to the history of the study of copepods go to Damkaer's History

What does a copepod look like. Well here are a couple of CLSM images of copepods taken by Dr. Jan Michels, Alfred Wegener Institute and Dr. Olga LĂ©vai, Leica Microsytems GmbH, Germany.


The Subclass Copepoda consists 10 Orders:

  1. Calanoida
  2. Cyclopoida
  3. Gelyelloida
  4. Harpacticoida
  5. Misophrioida
  6. Monstrilloida
  7. Mormonilloida
  8. Platycopioida
  9. Poecilostomatoida*
  10. Siphonostomatoida

There are over 240 described families, 2,600 genera and over 21,000 described species (both valid and invalid, including senior and junior synonyms)

*Poecilostomatoida [Boxshall & Halsey, 2004: 37, suggested placing it into Cyclopoida]

The Class Branchiura comprises 1 Family (Argulidae) and 4 Genera

  1. Argulus
  2. Chonopeltis
  3. Dipteropeltis
  4. Dolops

The Wilson Copepod Library

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. Currently, over 63,700 bibliographic entries on copepods are in the database. 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.

Also check Researchers page and see if your data is correct and send us any updates.

Please send your reprints and pdf's to: Note new address.

Smithsonian Institution
Wilson Copepod Library c/o Chad Walter
Museum Support Center, MRC 534
4210 Silver Hill Road
Suitland, MD 20746

Techniques Used In Processing Copepods for Taxonomic Study

This page provides researchers with various techniques used in the taxonomic study of copepods. Topics range from initial treatment of specimens at time of collection, to staining and media for microscopic examination and permanent preparation for long term storage. This information is provided for informational purposes and no endorsements are implied.

Copepod Links

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.]

Any comments, corrections, additions or
deletions should be directed to:

Database Manager
T. Chad Walter
phone 301-238-1764
fax 202-357-3043

This page was lasted updated April 8, 2016

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