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Copepoda - Copepods


 Kingdom: Animalia
 Subphylum: Crustacea
 Class: Maxillopoda
 Subclass: Copepoda

CopepodaThere are around 8,000 known species of copepods. Some people call them the "insects of the sea." Copepods are zooplankton and are an important food source for many species including fish, birds, seals, and whales. In fact, copepods are the largest source of protein found in the oceans.

While most species are found in the ocean, some species of copepods are also found in freshwater and in moist environments on land like in damp soil and leaf litter.

Copepods are found all over the world in habitats as extreme as high mountains and deep ocean trenches. Some species are free swimming, but many species are parasites and live on fish and invertebrates.

Copepods, like all crustaceans, have a segmented body, a hard exoskeleton, and up to 11 pairs of jointed appendages. The have two pairs of antennae and a single eye in the middle of their head! Most species are no more than a millimeter in length. They eat insect larvae, protozoans, bacteria, and other copepods.