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World Copepods Database
Walter, T.C. & G.A. Boxshall (2008). World of Copepods database. Available online at Consulted on yyyy-mm-dd

Dedicated website
Availability: Creative Commons License This dataset is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

A world checklist of Copepoda, compiled by taxonomic experts and based on peer-reviewed literature. more

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 Branchiura comprise over 250 described families; 2,600 genera and over 21,000 described species (both valid and invalid, including senior and junior synonyms).

Recently (November 2009), 2 valuable information resources were added 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 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 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.

Marine, Fresh water, Brackish water, Terrestrial, Classification, Marine invertebrates, Species, Taxonomy, World Waters, Copepoda

Geographical coverage
World Waters [Marine Regions]

Temporal coverage
From 1758 on [In Progress]

Taxonomic coverage
Copepoda [WoRMS]


Vlaams Instituut voor de Zee (VLIZ), moredatabase developer

Related datasets
Published in:
WoRMS: World Register of Marine Species, more

Dataset status: In Progress
Data type: Data
Data origin: Literature research
Metadatarecord created: 2012-07-13
Information last updated: 2013-04-23
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