Significance to humans

Copepods are hyper-abundant. They dominate the largest habitat on Earth, the open pelagic biome, and it is estimated that there are more individual copepods on the planet (1.37 X 1021) than there are insects. They play a vital role in the economy of the oceans, forming the middle link in food chains leading from phytoplankton up to commercially important fish species. Consideration of global carbon fluxes suggests that copepods play an equally important role in the global carbon cycle, since a major pro portion of fixed carbon dioxide passes through the oceanic food web. Some freshwater copepods act as vectors of human parasites such as guineaworm, while others are important predators of mosquito larvae and are actively used in biological control of mosquitoes in malarial areas. Sealice and other fish parasitic copepods are major pests in aquaculture of both fishes and mollusks.

1. Oithona plumifera; 2. Ergasilus sieboldi; 3. Monstrilla grandis; 4. Onychodiaptomus sanguineus; 5. Benthomisophria palliata. (Illustration by John Megahan)

1. Calanus finmarchicus; 2. Acartia clausi; 3. Temora longicornis; 4. Salmon louse (Lepeophtheirus salmonis); 5. Mesocyclops leuckarti; 6. Tigri-opus californicus. (Illustration by John Megahan)

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