The Bay of Villefranche-sur-mer (S-E France) is characterized by an exceptional zooplanktonic diversity which has already been noticed two centuries ago by F. Peron ("Etude des Invertébrés pélagiques du Cap de Nice et de la Baie de Villefranche", 1809). Because of this diversity, a research laboratory has been funded in 1882 with the help of C. Darwin himself. Today, and after many evolutions, this research laboratory has become the Villefranche Oceanographic Observatory and host more than 150 scientists and students.

Among marine zooplanktonic organisms, copepods are often the most abundant. Because of their small size, their relatively short life cycle and their availability, they represent a very interesting model for studies about pelagic biodiversity. For more details about copepods biology and ecology you can visit this site in French or this site in English. For more details about worldwide copepod diversity, you can visit the very good site of C. Razouls and F. de Bovée here.

In the following pages, we will progressively offer a short description with pictures and photographies of each copepod species we observe in the Bay during our researches. The ultimate goal of this site is to constitute a tool helping non-specialists to identify these organisms. This is the reason why easily observable features will be preferred to official taxonomic criteria to differentiate species. Remarks and suggestions are welcome to the authors.

Stéphane Gasparini et Elvire Antajan
Observatoire Océanologique de Villefranche - 06234 - Villefranche sur mer Cedex - France


Antenna clearly longer than head.
Urosome shorter than prosome.
The most abundant copepod order in marine pelagic ecosystems.

Antenna clearly longer than head.
Urosome as long as prosome.
Antenna shorter than head.
Body clearly divided in two parts or not clearly divided but very flattened.
Antenna shorter than head.
Body not clearly divided in two parts and almost cylindrical.

Last addition : 15 sept 2008, Ctenocalanus vanus (Calanoida)



All photographies were taken using 4% formalin preserved copepods, either with a binocular (darkfield images) or a microscope (brightfield images). These copepods were caught with a WP2 plankton net (200 µm mesh size) by vertical towing from the bottom (90 m depth) to the surface.
Drawing combines our observations and information available in the following publications :

Bradford-Grieve, J.M., Markhaseva, E.L., Rocha, C.E.F. and Abiahy, B. (1999) South Atlantic Zooplankton - Copepoda. Ed. D. Boltovskoy, Backhuys Publishers, Leiden, The Netherlands.

Conway, D.V.P., White, R.G., Hugues-Dit-Ciles, J., Gallienne, C.P. and Robins, D.B. (2003) Guide to the Coastal and Surface Zooplankton of the South-Western Indian Ocean. Ed. Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, Occasional Publication n°15.

Dussart, B.H. and Defaye, D. (1995) Introduction to Copepoda. Ed Dumont, H.J., SPB Academic Publishing, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Mauchline, J (1998) Biology of Calanoid Copepods. Eds Blaxter, J.H.S., Southward, A.J. and Tyler, Academic press, London, United Kingdom.

Rose, M. (1933) Faune de France (26) - Copepodes pélagiques. Ed. Paul Lechevalier, Paris, France.

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