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 Major Groups | Crustacea (crustaceans) | Malacostraca (malacostracans) | Anaspidacea (anaspidaceans)

Anaspidacea (anaspidaceans)

Major Group: Crustacea
Minor Group: Malacostraca
Order: Anaspidacea
Anaspidacea is included in a group of three malacostracan orders Anaspidacea, Bathynellacea, Palaeocaridacea (extinct) - known as Syncarida.

Descriptive Features:

  • thoracomere 1 fused to cephalon
  • pleonites 1-6 usually separate
  • eyes pedunculate, sessile or absent
  • antennal statocysts present
  • mandibles asymmetrical, left incisor armed with numerous teeth
  • paragnaths present
  • thoracopod 1 robust, 7- or 8-articled, with tubular exopod, covering mouthparts
  • thoracopods 2-6 with nontubular exopod
  • thoracopod 7 with or without exopod
  • thoracopod 8 flexed in opposite direction to thoracopods 2-7, without exopod and epipod
  • epipods present on thoracopods 2-7
  • Total length: up to 45 mm
  • Taxonomic Checklist:


    Family A

    Distribution: SA, Tas, Vic, NSW. All families except Stygocarididae are endemic to SE Australia.

    Sensitivity Rating: SIGNAL grade 6

    Functional Feeding Group: shredders, predators, scrapers, gathering collectors

    Ecology: Instream habitat: Syncarids prefer cool to cold permanent water or water linked to groundwater systems as no stage of the lifecycle can withstand desiccation. Syncarids typically occur in the hyporheic zone of sand and gravel riverbeds but are also found swimming in surface waters in colder highland areas. They are prominent in the interstitial groundwater fauna and as such may be important in groundwater carbon/energy cycles and water purification. Anaspidaceans are known to inhabit freshwaters from streams, lakes, swamps and caves. They are also found in the burrows of crayfishes (Parastacidae).
    Feeding ecology: Syncarids are predominantly detritivores, eating sediment, and algal feeders, including diatoms, but can also be predators, upon small fish and insects, and can even be cannibalistic.
    Life history: Eggs are shed into the water and left unattended. They develop directly without free larval stage into a form with only a few minor differences to the adult form.
    Information Sources: Poore 2002, Serov 2002, Williams 1980, Gooderham & Tsyrlin 2002
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