Copepoda: India

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This is an extract from
Protozoa to Mammalia
State of the Art.
Zoological Survey of India, 1991.
By Professor Mohammad Shamim Jairajpuri
Director, Zoological Survey of India
and his team of devoted scientists.
The said book is an enlarged, updated version of
The State of Art Report: Zoology
Edited by Dr. T. N. Ananthakrishnan,
Director, Zoological Survey of India in 1980.

Note: This article is likely to have several spelling mistakes that occurred during scanning. If these errors are reported as messages to the Facebook page, your help will be gratefully acknowledged.




The copepods fonn an important constituent of the crustacean fauna. Among the zooplankton, they comprise 70-80% of the total population. They feed on diatoms, bacteria and minute particles of organic material in the water and in tum serve as food for many of the larger aquatic animals, chiefly fish. Thus, they play an important role in the food chain of the aquatic ecosystem at various trophic levels and act as indicators of productivity. Copepodologists are quite convinced that quantitatively copepods are unrivalled by any other group of animals. Qualitatively, the number of species of the World is estimated somewhere between 10,000 and 12,doo.

The Subclass Copepoda under Class Maxillopoda in Phylum/Super Class Crustacea is divided into eight Orders viz., i) Calanoida, ii) Harpacticoida, iii) Cyclopoida, iv) Poecilostomatoida, v) Siphonostomatoida, vi) Monstrilloida, vii) Misophrioida &viii) Monnonillioda, depending upon the shape of body and structure of right antennule in male. Some copepods are sedentary, being commensal or semi-parasitic or parasitic on various aquatic animals, particularly fIsh, or restricted to the bottom. They are very small in size, ranging from half a millimeter to several millimeters in length. Parasitic fonns have originally descended from free-living ancestors and indeed, while the semi-parasitic copepods form a transition between the two groups. Copepods of the calanoid group have the highest number of species forming an essential part of nourishment for several common food fishes.

The Cyclopoida exhibit many modifications both in their appearance and habits, the latter affecting chiefly the structure of oral parts. The group exhibits some affmities with both the Calanoida and the Harpacticoida.

The Harpacticoida live near the shores among algae, sand or mud at different depths of sea. Several forms lead a Parasitic existence, attacking different invertebrate animals and fishes. However, the parasitism may be temporary or permanent The mode .of parasitism has a great influence on the structure of the oral parts of these copepods. The semi-parasitic forms belonging to the Orders Poecilostomatoida, Siphonostomatoida, Monstrilloida, Misophrioida and Mormonilloida were not well investigated. The available data shows that systematics, ecology, planktology and zoogeography are well investigated. while their embriology, genetics, biochemistry, aquacUlture and evolution are least studied by the Indian scientists.

Historical Resume

i) Pre-1900

Jurine (1820) was the fust to give a comprehensive account of the fresh water Copepoda in France. Later, Baird (1850) published his monumental work "Natural History of the British Entomostraca" A well kno~n scientific expedition Novara (1857-1859) had investigated the zooplankton of Indian Ocean from scattered stations. Our knowledge of the regional and seasonal distribution of the copepods of Indian Ocean is far from complete, although there were some valuable accounts along the coasts of India, Austtalia and South Africa. Well known international expeditions including Gazelle (1874-1876) and Valdivia (1998-1899) had investigated the zooplankton ofIndian Ocean. Our knowledge of the oceanic species ofcalanoid copepods ofBay of Bengal, including the Andaman.Sea is mainly due to works of Thompson (1900).

ii) 1901-1947

The earliest work on copepoda from oceanic waters around islands of the Arabian Sea was that of Cleve (1901). Subsequent investigations were made in the seas around India by Scott (1902), Thompson &Scott (1903), Cleve (1903, 1905), Wolfenden (1906), Pesta (1912) and Sewell (1929-1932). Well known international Indian Ocean expeditions including Gauss (1902-1903), Sea Lark (1905), Planet (1906-1907), Mowe (1912-1913), Dana (1928-1930), Snelliu! (1929), Discovery II (1930-1932, 1935, 1938), Mabahiss• (1933-1934), William Scoresby (1935, 1936, 1950) and Albatross (1947) have investigated the zooplankton of Indian Ocean.

Thompson and Scott (1903), Apsteiq (1907) SeweD (1913), Gurney (1916) and Sewell (1929, 1932) studied the calanoid copepods of Sri Lankan waters. Sewell (1914) created the genus Acartiella to accommodate the two new species from India. Gurney (1916) also described the new species of the genus Heliodiaptomus from India. Taxonomic discussion on copepods from inshore and estuarine waters of Arabian Sea was made by Sewell (1919). Sewell (1924) also described a new species of the genus Heliodiaptomus from India and also dealt (1929, 1932) with families that have been grouped by Giesbrecht in the Tribes Amphascandria and He terarthrandria.

After Sewell's monograph (1929, 1932) on the marine pelagic copepods, no comprehensive work on the group has been carried out from the Indian Seas. •Kiefer (1939) in his final analysis of the genus Neodiaptomus included six species of which four were recorded from China, Burma, Cele~and Java and two from Southern India. Arora (1942) reported ecological and taxonomic studies of Calanoida collected from seven high mountain lakes in Kashmir during the summer of 1940.

iii) 1948-1990

Taxonomic Studies

Taxonomic studies on copepods of ihe Andaman & Nicobar Islands by Goswami, & Rao, (1981), Madhupratap et ale (1981), Pillai, (1969), Rao, (1970, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989) and Wells &Rao, (1976, 1987), Roy (1978); Andhra Pradesh by Rao, (1951), Ganapati &-Rao, (1958), Ganapati &Santhakumari (1961), Rao, &Ganapati (1969), Rao, (1969, 1972), Radhakrishna &Ranga Reddy (1976, 1978) Ranga Reddy (1977, 1979, 1980, 1984 &. 1988), Ranga Reddy &Radhakrishna (1979, 1980, 1981, 1982, &1984), Uma Devi &Shyamasundari (1980) and Uma Devi et ale (1980); the Arabian Sea by Goswami, (1983), Nair, (1983, 1985) and Pillai, (1967): Assam by Reddiah (1965): Bombay by Bal &Pradhan (1945, 1952), Goswmi, (1985), Nair, &Peter (1980), Ranade (1973, 1974), Rangnekar, (1955, 1956, 1951, 1959 &, 1963), Rangnekar, &Murti, (1959, 1961, 1964), Rangnckar, &Rangnekar, (1972), Redkar &, Rangnekar, (1950), Redkar, et ale (1949); Goa by Chandran (1980), Goswami, (1919, 1983, 1985), Jacob &Menon, (1947): Gujarat by Bhaskaran &Gopalkrishnan (1971): the Indian Ocean by Gopalkrishnan (1974), Pillai, (1974, 1976 &1980), Saraswathy (1973, 1982), Silas & Pillai, (1967); Kamataka by Srinivasachar &Sundarabai (1974), Ummerkutty (1968, 1970); Kerala by George, (1953), George, (1958), Gopalkrishnan (1973), Hameed &PiI.1ai, (1970, 1973), Kurian (1955, 1961), Madhupratap &Hari Das (1978), Menon, et ale (1972), Pillai, (1968, 1973), Pillai, &Natarajan (1977), Pillai, (1970), Saraswathy (1962, 1964, 1966), Tranter &Abraham (1971); the Laccadive Sea by Goswami, (1979, 1983), Goswami, (1979) and Hari Das &Mahupratip (1978); the Orissa by Debasundar8m &Roy, (1954), Sehgal (1960, 1967, 1968) and Rao, (1969); Tamil Nadu by Gnanamuthu (1974, 1948, 1949, 1950, 1951, 1953 &"1957), Gnanamuthu.& Krishnaswamy (1948), Krishnaswamy (1950. 1951, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1956, 1957, 1969), Krishnakartha (1959), Nair, &Pillai, (1987), Ranga Reddy (1985), Reddiah (19.61, 1962, 1967, 1968, 1969, ~970), Reddiah &Mammen (1970). Sebastian &Pillai, (1973), Ummerkutty (1960, 1961, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1971); Tripura by Das &Bhattacharya (1974) and West Bengal by Gopalkrishnan (1971) and Roy, (1980).

Zoogeographical Studies

There have been relatively few zoogeographical studies by Indian scientists as a result of which about 27 articles have been published on this aspect. Our knowledge of the systematics and distributional patterns of the Copepoda of the Indian region is mainly due to the excellent accounts given by Panikkar (1970), Rajendran (1971), Kasturirangan et ale (1973), Pillai, (1974, 1980), Meenakshikunjamha (1974)•. Mohan. (1977). Devi, et ale (1979) and Goswami. (1982). Obsezvations on the seasonal distribution of zooplankton including copepods in estuaries along the West coast of India is confined to Cochin backwaters by George. (1958). Tranter &Abraham (1971). Menon. et ale (1972). Nair. & Tranter (1972). Pillai, (1971). Pillai, et ale (1973). Madhupratap & Hari Das (1~7S) and Madhupratap (1979); Trivandrum coast by Menon. (1945). Goswami, &Singbal (1974) described the zooplankton community in relation to hydrography of the Mandovi-Zuari estuarine complex of Goa. Distribution and dive.rsity of copepods in the Mandovi-Zuari estuarine system was studied by Goswami. (1979, 1982).

Observations on the seasonal distribution of the zooplankton specially copepods in the Hugli-Matla estuarine system of the east coast of India .were carried out by Dut18 el ale (1954) and Shetty el ale (1961); Godavari estuary by Mohan. &Rao. (1972), Mohan. (1977) and Lawson's Bay Waltair by Ganapati & Santhakumari (1961). Further, an excellent work of the distributional pattern of the copepods of the Indian Ocean was carried -out by Panikkar (1970), Saraswathy (1973), Kasturirangan et ale (1973) and Pillai. (1980).

Biological Studies

Feeding habits of the freshwater calanoid, Rhinediaptomus indicus have been reported by Singh (1973) and on parasitic copepods as Larnaeenicus hemirhamphi and Mysis relicla have been carried out by John &Nair, (1973) and Ramcharan et ale (1985). Earlier workers such as Krishnaswamy (1950, 1955), Ummerkutty (1960) and Abraham & Gopalan (1975) have carried out investigations on the larval stages of some species of the genus Laophonte for using detritus as food for development Goswamy t (1977) reported the affect of fOod item as detritus for the development of different stages of Laophonte setosa which were reared in the Laboratory.

The development stages, sex ratio and variation in body size of a common calanoid Pseudodiaptomus ardjuna were studied by Alvarez & Kevalramni (1970) and Pseudodiaptomus binghami by Goswami, (1978). Further, development and predatory behaviour in a calanoid copepod, Tortanus forcipatus was studied by Goswami, (1977).

Observations were made on the development of the larval stages of the calanoid copepod, Labidocera pectinata by Pillai. (1972). harpacticoi~ copepod, EUlerpina aculifrons by Goswami, (1976), cyclopoid copepod. Cyclopina longifera by Goswami, (1977), calanoid copepod. Labidocera pavo and L. minuta by Goswami, (1978) and Megadiaptomus habes by Ranga Reddy &Rama Devi (1985). Development of the harpactiooid copepod, Macrosetella gracilis was further studied by Krishnaswamy (1949, 1951), Tisointrajonesi by Ummerkutty (1960) and Arenopontia indica by Rao. (1967) and cyclopoid copepod by Oithona rigida by Rammohan Ral (1958). Bionomics, structure and development of the parasitic copepod. Ca/igus russelli was noted by Kurian (1952). Breeding periods of certain copepods were observed by Govindankuuy &Nair, (1966. 1973), Prasad &Krishnakartha (1959) and Ummerkuuy (1967).

Goswami, (1982) observed deviation from chromosomal nonnalcy in the calanoid copepod, Paracalanus aculeatus during solar eclipSe. She further noted about the chromosomal structure etc. oCtile calanoid copepods. Pontellopsis herdmoni and Pontella princeps collected from Laccadive Sea in 1984. Biochemical co~position in zooplankton specially of copepod specimens collected from the west coast of India and the Andaman Sea was studied by Goswami, (1981). John et al., (1977) also studied the biochemical composition of the copepod, Lernaeenicus hemirhamphi .. ~dhupratap et al., (1979) also carried out similar type of studies on tropical zooplankton specially copepods. They studied the nature of distribution of glycogen and lipids in a parasitic copepod. Hermilius longicornis following the work done by John (1975).

An excellent work on respiration of copcpods was carried out by Krishnaswamy (1959. 1960, 1962). Nature of infestation of parasitic copepods on different fIShes from the south west coast of India was studied in detail by Radhakrishnan &Nair, (1981). Observations on acute toxicity using copepods were made by Abdul Kader et~ al., (1976) and Ghosh et at, (1974).

Fishery Studies

The abundance of copepods and fish production of an area are closely related. Hora (1944) while studying commercial freshwater fishes in West Bengal observed that there was a great mortality among the carp fisheries due to presence of the fish-louse, Argulusfoliaceous. Jacob & Devi Das Menon (1947) observed that the fluctuations in copepod population in th~ West Hill plankton were correlated to those of the fishery of the plankton-feeding flShses of the Calicut coast for the years 1939-1944.

Observations were also made by Shetly et al., (1961) on th fluctuations of plankto~ and their relation to commercial fish landings in the Hugli-Matla estuarine system. Similar studies were also made along the north Kanara coast by Rammurthy (1965). Pillai, (1969) reported the plankton and the hydrographical conditions of the Bombay coastal waters and its fisheries. Mukundan (1971) reported the relationship of inshore water zooplankton with the coastal pelagic fIShery at Calicut on Kerala Coast.

Taxonomic Studies on parasitic copepods

Basett-Smith (1898) iust made studies on the fauna of the Indian Ocean. He described several parasitic copepods, collected from the Arabian Sea and Persian Gulf. Since then, no work could be made on this group except Kirtisinghee (1932-1964) from Sri Lanka waters.

Orianamuthu (1947¬1957) studied the copepod fauna from the Bay of Bengal and Rangnekar (1953-1963) from the Arabian Sea. Needless to mention that their work were made significant addition to our knowledge of the Indian fauna. Pillai, (1961-1977) was made a series of publications on this group, parasitic on fishes, collected from the coastal waters of Kerala. Very interesting publications on the Indian fauna is available" of the works of Redkar et al., (t949), Kurian (1949-1951), Rao (1950-1951), Rangnekar, (1950-1964), Tripatby (1962)," Bennet (1961-1974), Sebastian (1964-1968) and Hameed &Pillai (1972-1973). Pillai, (1985) gave very useful information as a Fauna of India, where he described 314 species of parasitic copepod of marine fishes, collected from the Indian waters.

Expertise India


Tusharendu Roy, Zoological Survey of India, 27, Jawaharlal Nehru Road,Calcutta 700 016, West Bengal.

G. Chandrasekhara Rao, Zoological Survey of India, Middle point, Port Blair 744 101. [Copepods : Harpacticoida].


S. S. Bhattachary, Dept of Zoology, Siddharth College, University of Bombay; P.T. Marg, Fort. Bombay 400 001. [Calanoida].

T. C. Gopallaishnan, Regional Centre, National Institute• of Oceanography, Cachiri 682018, Kerala. [Calanoida].

S. C. Goswami, National Institute of Oceanography, Dona Paula, Goa 403 004. [Calanoida, Harpacticoida, Cyclopoida].

P. Madhupratap, National Institute of Oceanography, Dona Paula, Goa, 403 004. [Calanoi~J. P. P. Meenakshikunjamma, Regional Centre, National Institute of Oceanography, P. B. No. 1913, Cochin 682 018, Kerala. [Corycalidae Cyclopoida].

B. U. Nair, Dept. of Aquatic Biology and Fisheries, University of Kerala, , Beach P.O., Trivandrwn 695 007, Kerala. [poecilostomatoida, Siphonostomatoida, Harpacticoida].

P. Natarajan, Dept. of Aquatic Biology and Fisheries, University of Kerala, Beach P.O., Trivandrum 695007, Kerala. [Anthosomatidae, Lemaeidae, Ergasilidae].

P. P. Pillai, Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute, (Annexe Bldg. 6), S.T.R. Bldgs., Cochin 682 011, Kerala. [Calanoida, Cyclopoida, Harpacticoida].

Y. Radhakrishna, Dept. of ZOology, Nagarjuna University, Nagarjunanagar 522 510, Andhra Pradesh. [Harpacticoida, Calanoida, Cyclopoida].

M. Rajendran, National Institute of Oceanography, Goa 403 004. [Calanoida, Diaptomidae].

Y. Ranga Reddy, Dept. of Zoology, Nagarjuna Univeristy, Nagarjunanagar 522 510, A.P. [Ergasilidae, Diaptomidae, Lyclopidae].

E. G. Silas, Central Institute of Brackishwater Aquaculture, 12, Leith Castle Street,• Santbome, Madras 600 028. [pontellidae, Harpacticoida]

R. Stephen, Regional Centre of NIO, P. B. No. 1013, Ernakulum, Cochin 682 018, Kerala [Calanidae, Augaptilida, Lucicutiidae, Oncaeidae].

D. V. Uma Devi, Zoology Department, Andhra University, Waltair, A.P. [Calanoida Dichelesthidae ].


S. Ali Khan, Inst. of Marine Biology, University of Karachi, Karachi 32, Pakistan. [Calanoida] .

N~ G. Das, Inst. of Marine Sciences, University of Chittagong, Chittagong, BangIa Desh. [Calanoida].

Z. Kabata, Pacific Biological Station, Nanaimo, B.C., Canada, V9R. 5K6. [SiphonoSlomatoida] . E. L. Markhaseva, Academy of Sciences, Zoological Institue, Lab. Marine Biology, Universiteskaya nab S U -199064, Leningrad, U.S.S.R. [Calanoida, Aetideidae].

C. Monniot, Museum d'Histoire Natutelle, Laboratoire de Biologie des Inverte'bre's, Marins et Malacologie, 66 rue de Buffon F -75005, Paris, France. [Notod~lphyoida].

B. F. Morris, National Marine Fisheries Service, Alaska Region. 701 'C' st. Box 43, Anchorage, Alaska 99513, U.S.A. [Calanoida, Cyclopoida].

S. Nishida, Ocean Research Institute University of Tokyo 1~15-1, l-Chome, Minamidai Nakano-ku, Tokyo, 164 Japan. [Dithonidae, Calanoida, Paracalanidae].

W. Noodt, Zoologisches Institute dar Universitat Kiel, Olshauseustrasse 40, 0-2300, Kiel 1, Germany. [Harpacticoida].

T. P~k, Dept. of Marine Biology, Texas A &M University, P.O. Box, ]675, Galveston, Texas 77553 U.S.A. [Calanoida].

G. L. Pesce, Departimento ScienzeambientaIi, University of L'Aquita, Piazza Regina Margherita, 71-67100, L'Aquita Italy. [Cyclopidae, Harpacticoida].

A. Raibaot, Academie de montpellier, Universite des sciences et Techniques du Langoedoc, Laboratoire d' Ichthyologie et de Parasitologie generale, Place Eugene Bataillon, F-34060, Montpellier Cedex France. [Copepoda].

N. Revis, Virge Universiteit Brussel Dienst Ecologie &Systematiek, Pleinlaan 2, B -1050, Brussels, Belgium.

H. K. Schminke, Fachberei ch 7 (Biologie) Arbeitsgruppe Zoomorphologie Universitat Oldenburg, Postfach 2503, D -2900, Oldenburg GeI'IJlany. [Parastenocarididae, Harpacticoida].

W. Vervoort, Dept. of..Systematic Zoology, Rajksmuseum van Naturlijke Historie, Raamsteeg 2, Postbus 9517, NL -2300 RA, Leiden Netherlands. [Calanoida].

T. C. Walter, Division of Crustacea, NHB -Stop 163, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, 20009, U.S.A. [Calan6ida].

Wellershaus, Alfred-Wegener-Institut fur Polar-und Meeresforschung, Colurnbusstrasse, D -2850, Bremerhaven Gnnany. [Acartiella, Paracalanidae].

Selected References

Pillai,N. l{. 1985. Parasitic Copepods of marine fishes. Fauna of India, Zoologial Survey of India, .900 pp.

Sars, G. D. 1903." An account of the Crustacea of Norway with short descriptions and figures of aU species. 4. Copepoda: Calanoida. Bergen Museum, Bergen. 171 pp. Sars, G. D. 1918. An account of the Crustacea of Norway with short descriptions and figures of aU the species. 6. Copepoda: Cyclopoida. Bergen Museum, Bergen, 221 pp.

Sewell, R. B. S. 1924. Fauna of Chilka Lake. Crustacea: Copepoda. Mem. Indian Mus., 5 : 771-851.

Sewell, R. B. S. 1940. Copepoda: Harpacticoida. Scientific Report. John Mu"ay Exped., 7 : 117-382.

Wells, J. B. J. &Rao, G. C. 1987. Littoral Harpacticoida (Crustacea: Copepoda) from Andaman &Nicobar Islands. Mem. zool. SUTll. India, 16 (4) : 1-385. Wilson, C. B. 1972. The Copepods of the Woods Hole region, Massachussetts. Bull. U.S. Natl. Mus., 158 : 1-636.

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