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Most commonly used techniques for treating ostracod soft body for taxonomical purposes with optical microscopy are described with emphasis on the order Podocopida. A variety of procedures for pre-treatment, storage, recovery of dried specimens, dissection, temporary and permanent mounting, and staining methods are presented and evaluated. General morphology and terminology of the ostracod appendages are also summarised.
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Joannea Geol. Paläont. 11: 327-343 (2011)
Soft body morphology, dissection and slide-preparation of Ostracoda:
a primer
Abstract: Most commonly used techniques for treating ostracod soft body for taxonomi-
cal purposes with optical microscopy are described with emphasis on the order Podo-
copida. A variety of procedures for pre-treatment, storage, recovery of dried specimens,
dissection, temporary and permanent mounting, and staining methods are presented
and evaluated. General morphology and terminology of the ostracod appendages are
also summarised.
Key Words: Ostracoda; Dissection; Mounting; Staining; Appendages; Morphology.
1. Introduction
One of best diagnostic and most conspicuous trait of Ostracoda is a bivalved carapace
that may completely envelop the whole animal body with limbs. Ostracodologists usu-
ally refer to calcified valves as “hard parts”, whereas to the appendages and other in-
ternal organs as „soft parts”. The classification of Recent ostracods is based mainly on
differences in the soft part morphology which is ordinarily of little use by palaeontolo-
gists. However, considering the close functional relationship often existing between the
soft and hard parts, each expressing to a considerable extent the morphology of the
other, even basic knowledge on the appendages without doubt should help palaeonto-
logists to better understand and interpret various features displayed in the valves of the
fossil ostracods. Examining living material collected from modern habitats enables pa-
laeontologists also to become familiar with intraspecific variability or ecology, which
could greatly facilitate both taxonomical and palaeoenvironmental studies. Therefore
the morphology and terminology of the soft parts of ostracods is outlined (focusing on
limbs) in this primer prior to the description of various laboratory techniques involved
in the appendage preparation for optical microscopy. Analogously, one may advise a
biologist (neontologist) to familiarise oneself with the details of the “hard parts” mor-
phology and some basic laboratory techniques used routinely in micropalaeontological
Several laboratory techniques and chemicals used in the study of the soft body of
ostracods are in many respects analogous to those applied to other aquatic animals of
similar size. However, the presence of the overdeveloped calcified carapace in ostra-
cods, has proved necessary to develop a number of special methods for treating both
Recent and fossil specimens. The bivalved nature of the carapace coupled with the
small size of most ostracods appear also to be an important obstacle and the reason of
a disinclination to study this group by biologists, since acquiring the expertise to per-
form properly a full dissection can take sometimes several months.
The present introductory text was intended to be used primarily by palaeontolo-
gists and novices working mainly with hard parts, thus it was deemed not necessary to
include in it a detailed description of the techniques typically pertaining the study of the
valves. Both preparation techniques and general morphology of the ostracod soft body
is presented and exemplified by the order Podocopida (or subclass Podocopa; classifi-
cation scheme according to HORNE et al. 2002) which is the most species-rich and di-
verse ostracod group at the present day as well as has the best fossil record (HORNE et
al. 2002).
For the practical knowledge concerning methods of sampling, sample processing,
initial laboratory treatments and culturing of Recent ostracods the reader is referred to
other publications in which such procedures are described in detail, of which the most
recommendable are the following: BRONSTEIN (1947, Engl. transl. 1988); ATHERSUCH et
al. (1989); HENDERSON (1990); GRIFFITHS & HOLMES (2000); MEISCH (2000) and DANIE-
LOPOL et al. (2002), as well as those concerning meiofauna in general (e.g., HIGGINS &
THIEL 1988; GALASSI et al. 2002; SOMMERFIELD et al. 2005 or GIERE 2009).
2. General morphology and terminology of the soft body
Although several authors have recently attempted to unify terminology pertaining ostra-
cod limbs and their chaetotaxy (e.g., HARTMANN 1966–1989; DANIELOPOL 1978; BROOD-
GUILLAUME 1996; MEISCH 1996; COHEN et al. 1998; MARTENS 1998; MEISCH 2000;
2005; TSUKAGOSHI et al. 2006; BOXSHALL et al. 2010), there is still lack of consensus on
this matter in the literature and many confusion exists about limb homologies with
other crustacean taxa and even within Ostracoda. Here we adopted terminology of the
general limb morphology after HORNE et al. (2002).
Ostracods have a short compact body (Fig. 1) with no true segmentation as often
recognisable in other crustaceans. A faint constriction of the body usually just in front
of the centre (indicated by a dashed-line in Fig. 1) marks the indistinct boundary bet-
ween two main parts, the anterior head (cephalon) and the posterior trunk (consisting
of the reduced thorax and the rudimentary abdomen). The later portion shows in a few
taxa some external traces of segmentation, suggesting 4–7 (subclass Myodocopa) or
10–11 (subclass Podocopa) barely discernible postcephalic segments (HORNE et al.
Ostracod limbs (or appendages), excepting the antennula (or first antenna), are
considered to derive from a generalised ancestral crustacean appendage composed of
a basal protopod on which distally two rami are carried: an inner endopod (commonly
larger) and an outer exopod (often strongly reduced). The rami (and sometimes proto-
pod) are usually composed of a number of podomeres (articles or joints). From the pro-
topod may arise medial endites and lateral exites (epipods if branchial in function).
Adult ostracods possess up to eight pairs of functionally specialised limbs, including
male copulatory appendages (HORNE et al. 2002), which is the fewest number of limbs
of any crustaceans (BRUSCA & BRUSCA 2003).
In Podocopa four pairs of limbs are considered to be clearly attached to the cepha-
lon, which is untypical for crustaceans (for some details on a debate as to whether os-
tracods have four or five cephalic appendages see MEISCH (2000) or HORNE et al.
(2002) and references therein). These are the following limbs from the anterior-most:
antennula (A1), antenna (A2), mandibula (Md) and maxillula (Mx1) (Fig. 1). First two
pairs (and the eye) are attached to the pre-oral forehead, while mandibula and maxil-
lula are connected to the hypostome, constituting the ventral posterior portion of the
cephalon, and forming the posterior edge of the mouth opening. The forehead, hypos-
tome and upper lip (laying below the forehead and forming the anterior edge of the
mouth) constitute parts of the complex chitinous framework of the cephalon. In the
mouth region there are also food-rakes assisting with chewing food (MEISCH 2000).
The antennula (A1, Fig. 1) is uniramous (BOXSHALL et al. 2010), composed of 5-8
podomeres bearing a number of various setae and claws (up to c. 30 in Podocopa:
MADDOCKS 2000; SMITH & TSUKAGOSHI 2005), and has locomotory (swimming, crawling
and/or burrowing) and sensory functions (served by chemo-sensorial setae or aestheta-
scs). It is usually long, flexible and moving upward and back. The chaetotaxy of A1 (the
number and arrangement of various setae) as well as the number of podomeres differ
in the various groups, providing useful but yet not fully exploited diagnostic characters.
It is advised here to follow the antennular podomere notation of SMITH & TSUKAGOSHI
(2005), however, this notation can be applied successfully only if the ontogeny of A1
of a given species is sufficiently known.
The antenna (A2, Fig. 1) is biramous, however, the degree of development of the
two rami, arising from usually one podomere-protopod, differs substantially in Myodo-
copa and Podocopa (HORNE et al. 2002). In the former subclass the exopod is well de-
veloped (with at least 9 podomeres), while the endopod is reduced. On the contrary, in
Podocopa it is the endopod which is better-developed ramus (with 3–4 podomeres
armed with various setae, aesthetascs and terminal claws), whereas the exopodite is
rudimentary (in a form of a small scale with short seta(-e) or of a long spinneret seta,
except the order Platycopida where the exopod is developed almost as strongly as the
endopod). The antennae are the most important locomotory appendages for ostracods,
Fig. 1: Morphology of a female of Cypris pubera O.F. MÜLLER as an example of a cypridoidean
ostracod (Podocopa: Podocopida: Cypridoidea: Cyprididae). Right valve in internal lateral view,
the whole body removed from the valves and dissected individual limbs: A1 – antennula, A2 –
antenna, Md – mandibula, Mx1 – maxillula, L5 – fifth limb (maxilliped), L6 – sixth limb (walk-
ing leg), L7 – seventh leg (cleaning leg), CR – caudal ramus.
with long natatory setae in swimming forms and/or chelate claws for crawling and bur-
rowing. The complex chaetotaxy of A2 (often sexually dimorphic) is a significant char-
acter in ostracod taxonomy, sometimes also allowing distinction of particular larval
stages. It is strongly recommended to consult the A2 chaetotaxic schemes and termi-
nology for the detailed taxonomical study (BROODBAKKER & DANIELOPOL 1982; MARTENS
1987; MEISCH 2000 for the superfamily Cypridoidea, and ROSSETTI & MARTENS 1996,
1998 for Darwinuloidea, as well as KAJI & TSUKAGOSHI 2010 for homology of the
antennal chaetotaxy among all podocopid superfamilies).
The mandibula (Md, Fig. 1) functions mostly as a feeding organ and typically cor-
responds well to the general structure of the ancestral crustacean biramous appendage,
having both rami developed in addition to the protopod (HORNE 2005). The protopod is
composed of two podomeres, the large and heavily sclerotized coxa ventrally bearing
strong endite (teeth), and the basis, which bears the exopodial branchial plate (often
greatly reduced) and constitutes the first segment of a mandibular palp, consisting also
of the endopod. The endopodal part of the palp is armed with various setae, the
number and structure of which proved to be important diagnostic traits for some groups
(e.g., the subfamily Candoninae). For the terminology of the mandibular chaetotaxy of
the superfamily Cypridoidea see BROODBAKKER & DANIELOPOL (1982).
The maxillula (Mx1, Fig. 1) is the fourth pair of the cephalic limb, usually modified
to a great extent, having masticatory and respiratory functions. In the subclass Podo-
copa Mx1 consists of a) the single-podomere protopod bearing three endites, b) the
endopod constituting a palp with up to three podomeres and c) the exopod forming usu-
ally a well-developed, large branchial plate, morphology of which seems to offer useful
diagnostic and phylogenetical features (HORNE 2005; SMITH et al. 2005). Myodocopa
do not possess large exopodial branchial plates, instead, they have them on the fifth
limb, while on Mx1 small epipodial (arising from the protopod) branchial plates may be
observed in some taxa (HORNE 2005).
The four pairs of the head limbs are followed by three pairs of the trunk limbs, one
pair of the male copulatory appendages and a pair of caudal rami (or furcae). The trunk
limbs vary in structure and function among taxa.
The fifth limb (L5, Fig. 1) differs in the structure in various taxa depending on the
function it performs and is regarded important in classification in several groups. It may
serve as a locomotory appendage (for instance in the superfamilies Cytheroidea or Bair-
dioidea) and then it has a form of a walking leg with a single protopod podomere and
up to four endopod podomeres (the distal one armed with a strong claw), while the
exopod is reduced, represented usually just by one seta or rarely by a well-developed
branchial plate (HORNE 2005). This limb may be also modified for feeding (e.g., in the
superfamily Cypridoidea) and forms a maxilliped with a single protopod podomere (pro-
vided with setae used in feeding), a leg-like or palp-like endopod, and a small or totally
lacking exopodial branchial plate. In males of Cypridoidea the endopod is transformed
into an often unsymmetrical clasping organ used for holding the female during copula-
In several Myodocopa the fifth limb serves as a respiratory (and/or filter feeding)
appendage as it bears a large epipodial branchial plate (HORNE 2005; COHEN et al.
2007). Between or just in front of the fifth limbs the so-called brush-shaped organs,
considered vestiges of an additional pair of appendages of an unknown function, are
found in males of several representatives of the order Podocopida (e.g., the suborder
Cytherocopina; HORNE et al. 2002).
The sixths limb (L6, Fig. 1) in the majority of the representatives of the subclass
Podocopa is a uniramous walking leg with the (usually undifferentiated) protopod and
up to four podomere long endopod, armed distally with a strong claw. In other taxa it
may be a walking leg with an epipodial branchial plate (suborder Halocypridina), lamel-
liform (order Myodocopida), modified into claspers in males and being rudimentary in
females (order Platycopida) or absent (suborder Cladocopina; COHEN et al. 1998,
2007; HORNE et al. 2002; HORNE 2005).
The seventh limb (L7, Fig. 1) in the Podocopa is either a walking leg similar to the
L6 (as in e.g., the order Palaeocopida or the suborders Cytherocopina and Darwinulo-
copina of the order Podocopida) or a cleaning leg, directed upwards, often terminated
with a set of complex pincers and used for removing foreign material from the interior
of the valves (as in Cypridocopina) or it is completely lacking (as in Platycopida; HORNE
et al. 2002). In the Myodocopa this limb has the cleaning function, being long, vermi-
form and flexible (as in the order Myodocopida) or it is greatly reduced or totally absent
(as in the order Halocyprida; COHEN et al. 2007).
The male copulatory appendages (or hemipenes), located in front of or attached
to the caudal rami and usually paired, may be regarded as the transformation and in-
tegration of 3–5 pairs of thoracic appendages (MARTENS & HORNE 2009). These are of-
ten large and complex structures, varied in various taxa and considered very important
taxonomic characters. The detailed internal structure of the copulatory organs is often
very difficult to study and needs much practice to obtain satisfactory results. For more
details on morphology and terminology pertaining to the hemipenis the reader is re-
ferred to MCGREGOR & KESLING (1969), DANIELOPOL (1969, 1978), MARTENS (1990,
1998), MEISCH (2000), SMITH et al. (2006) and SMITH & KAMIYA (2007).
The paired caudal rami or furcae (CR, Fig. 1) are attached to the posteroventral
end of the ostracod body, however, their position relative to the anus differs fundamen-
tally in Myodocopa and Podocopa. In the former subclass they are situated posterior,
while in the latter – anterior to the anus (COHEN et al. 2007). When fully developed they
are plate- or rod-shaped structures with setae and/or claws and have essentially a loco-
motory function (Myodocopa, Palaeocopida, Platycopida, most Podocopida). In some
groups they are reduced to various extent, being represented in extreme case just by
minute setae (as in e.g., Cytheroidea or Darwinuloidea). Caudal rami and their attach-
ment are of systematic importance (HORNE et al. 2002; MEISCH 2007).
3. Dissection, staining and mounting
Although an experienced ostracodologist (zoologist) is sometimes able to identify ostra-
cod specimens to the genus or species level just by the external morphology of the ca-
rapace and can dispense with the examination of the soft body, for the accurate identi-
fication and description of specimens a complete dissection of the soft parts is usually
necessary. Without experience, dissecting appendages is a difficult task, and often, es-
pecially in case of small ostracods, it is not possible to avoid damage. Hence, if there
is enough material for study, it is recommended for practice that an initiate should ex-
amine several specimens and select larger and well-preserved specimens with open or
at least not tightly closed valves (Fig. 2).
Fig. 2: If there is enough material for study,
larger and well-preserved specimens with
open valves should be selected for dissection
(indicated by an arrow).
The first step is to open and disarticulate the valves, and then separate valves and
the soft body. If live ostracods are being killed for dissection, it is vital to use dilute c.
30 % ethyl alcohol, as this causes animals to die with more or less open valves, making
removal of the soft parts from the carapace easier. Alternatively, similar results may be
obtained by killing animals by adding narcotics used for anaesthesia or euthanasia in
veterinary practice, as e.g., urethane (or ethyl carbamate) (HENDERSON 1990) or MS-
222 (or tricaine methanesulfonate) (SCHMIT & MEZQUITA 2010) but these may be toxic
and the present authors have no experience with such chemical compounds. Details on
other chemicals which may be potentially used in the ostracod studies and are com-
monly used as pre-preservation anaesthetising agents in other marine and fresh water
animals when material must be preserved in a relaxed condition may be found in GREEN
Prior to removal the animal soft body from the carapace, the examination of the
shape and general surface features as well as measuring of the complete carapace has
to be done. Opening the valves of freshly killed or preserved specimens is best carried
out on a standard 3 × 1 inch microscope glass slide in a drop of glycerine under a ste-
reoscopic binocular microscope at a magnification of c. 20–60×. As finally the trans-
mitted light and high magnification will be used for examining fine morphological de-
tails of the dissected appendages, the glass slide should not be thicker than 1 mm and
the volume of the glycerine drop should be just enough to fill the area under a cover-slip
(see also below). For larger specimens a depression slide, a watch glass or an embryo
dish may be used to separate valves from the soft body, and 96 % ethanol or water in-
stead of glycerine as a dissecting medium, if valves are to be used for SEM or geoche-
mical analyses. Two dissecting needles are necessary, the finest entomological pins (no.
000) fitted in dissecting-needle handles (or fixed just to any convenient grip, as e.g., a
matchstick) are most suitable. Pasteur pipettes, small flexible forceps, fine brushes and
tiny wire loops may also be useful while dissecting, and it is important first to have all
necessary materials on hand (Fig. 3).
Fig. 3: A set of materials necessary for dissection and slide-preparation of ostracods: dissecting
needles, pipettes, forceps, fine brushes, an embryo dish, nail varnish, mounting medium (Hydro-
Matrix), an aluminium holder for a glass slide and/or cover slips, a three-well embryo slide, a
micropalaeontological slide, self-adhesive paper labels, a standard glass slide, depression glass
slides, cover slips and a small Petri dish.
If the carapace valves are not tightly closed, the needles should be put between
the valves allowing valves to be slightly open (Fig. 4A–C) so that one is able to insert
one needle between one valve and the body, and holding the specimen in the place to
pry this valve off the body with the second needle, cutting the central adductor muscle
and dorsal connection of the body to the valves (Fig. 4D–F). Finally, one should remove
the body from the other valve freeing it also from the adductor muscles (Fig. 4G).
Specimens with firmly closed valves may be opened up in a numbers of ways. The
most straightforward way is to place one needle in the middle of the ventral margin of
a specimen immersed in a drop of glycerine on a glass slide and attempt to put a gent-
le pressure on its dorsal part by the second needle. If this action successfully causes the
valves slightly open, the procedure described above can be followed. Sometimes, alco-
hol fixed specimens may open when simply transferred to water (F. VIEHBERG, pers.
comm.). If unsuccessful, sometimes it is necessary to breach one valve a little or more
(preferably in the middle of the ventral margin where the mutilation is the least severe)
in order to prise the valves definitely apart. As a last resort (particularly when sufficient
Fig. 4: Successive stages of a separation of the valves and the soft body. Consult text for details.
material is available for study), specimens with tightly closed valves (especially those
minute and with ball-shaped carapaces) can be pressed when in a glycerine drop on a
glass slide by a cover-slip to crush the carapace. The appendages (particularly those
well-chitinized) may be farther examined either after removing the cover-slip and clea-
ning the broken valve remains off the body or just as undissected smashed body.
For stubborn specimens when there is enough material for study, other more com-
plex procedures may be also employed which consist of repeated heating and cooling
in water or gluing one valve to a slide and prising off the other (see for details VAN MORK-
HOVEN 1962; ATHERSUCH et al. 1989). The opening of the valves and removing the soft
body is one of the most frustrating part of ostracod preparation not only for a novice and
only much practice could provide satisfactory results.
As both opening of valves and subsequent dissection of appendages sometimes
result in damage and finally partial loss or unavailability of some specimens or parts
thereof for further studies, it is always recommended that whenever possible one
should retain additional intact voucher specimens preserved in ethanol and deposit the-
se in any recognisable collection for a verification of the identification or for a use in
other studies.
When the valves and soft body are separated, the valves have to be removed from
glycerine, transferred to a small petri-dish or better to a watch glass and washed tho-
roughly by immersing in distilled water or alcohol to get rid of the glycerine. Cleaned
valves should then be dried in air and finally placed and mounted with a water-soluble
gum tragacanth adhesive in labelled cardboard or plastic cavity slides (micropalaeonto-
logical slides) for storing (Fig. 5A). MEISCH (2000) advocates also to mount valves for
permanent preservation in Euparal or glycerine jelly on a microscopic depression slide,
which allows observation in transmitted light. The valves can also be stored in a vial of
70–80 % ethyl alcohol. However, sometimes in the long run both Euparal and alcohol
cause some decalcification, thus not all workers are fully satisfied with this method.
Decalcification of valves can be avoided or minimised when using ethanol which is buf-
fered, absolute (analytically pure) or denatured by butanone or methyl ethyl ketone (F.
VIEHBERG, pers. comm., later method according to B. SCHARF).
Dissection of the soft body parts is routinely performed from specimens wet pre-
served in alcohol (or formalin). If dried, the specimens may be sometimes effectively
restored to the state suitable for studying appendages but it requires additional treat-
ments. ATHERSUCH et al. (1989) recommend gradual moistening with water or immer-
sing in 10 % aqueous solution of TSP (trisodium phosphate) for 24 hours, after which
the specimens can be washed and returned to alcohol or further dissected (see also
WECHSLER et al. 2001).
In a day-to-day practice, the dissection of appendages is found easiest to be con-
tinued in glycerine on the same glass slide where in the first step valves were separated
from the soft body. If that step was done thoroughly, the compact unfragmented body
of an animal can be seen under a stereomicroscope at about 20–60 ×. If you are unfa-
miliar with the ostracod soft body morphology, it is advisable first to orient the animal,
and sketch the general shape and position of the appendages before separating them
from the body. Although most ostracods show no external evidence of segmentation, a
slight constriction of the body near the middle indicates the boundary between the an-
terior head and the posterior trunk (see above). It is recommended to start the dissec-
tion of the appendages by dividing the body into these two parts inserting the needles
in the middle of the dorsal side and cutting the body along the transverse dorsoventral
axis between the fourth and fifth limbs (indicated by a dashed-line in Fig. 1). Then the
halves of the body should be divided along the sagittal plane into the right and left por-
tions, and subsequently all appendages gently removed with the needles. In some taxa
(representatives of the superfamily Cypridoidea) the fourth and fifth limbs are attached
and have to be first removed from the body together and then teased apart (see Fig. 1).
Small limbs or reduced caudal rami typical for some taxa are, with a little practice, dif-
ficult to localise and dissect, therefore they sometimes are removed together with adja-
cent parts and not separated.
Fig. 5: Cleaned valves placed and mounted in a
labelled micropalaeontological slide (A). Covering
dissected appendages by a cover-slip (B and C)
and final sealing by a nail polish (D).
Anatomical dissection of the hemipenes requires more practice and patience (so-
me details may be found in DANIELOPOL 1982). Care should be taken that no air bubbles
remain in glycerine or are attached to pieces of the body causing them to float at the
glycerine surface.
Once the appendages are dissected and placed in the centre of the glycerine drop,
they are covered carefully with a 15 mm round or 18–20 mm square and 0.13–
0.17 mm thick cover-slip as follows. Lower the cover-slip over the drop at an angle,
with one edge touching the glass slide first (Fig. 5B). Allow the glycerine to spread
slowly out between the glass slide and the cover-slip without applying pressure (Fig.
5C). It takes some practice to determine just how much glycerine to use. If too much is
placed on the slide, the cover-slip will float, creating a glycerine layer that is too thick
and causing the appendages spread out to the edges of the cover-slip. If too little gly-
cerine is used, the layer is too thin, not extending to the edges of the cover-slip and
appendages may be squashed. Finally, the preparation is sealed with a nail polish (Fig.
5D), marked with the label and kept flat and undisturbed in a dust free area. It is also
advisable to label slides permanently with a diamond needle in addition to the paper
The appendages are best observed in transmitted light at magnifications 100-
200× but for the examination of fine structures magnifications of 400 × and frequently
1000 × (oil immersion) are necessary. To aid in the observation of details such as mi-
nute setae, etc., the systems of phase contrast or differential (or Nomarski) interference
contrast as well as staining (see below) can be employed. However, staining is not re-
commended if the latter contrast is planned to be used.
As in the glycerine it is difficult to control the proper horizontal arrangements of
the dissected appendages when covering them by the cover-slip and to avoid their
sweeping to or out of the cover-slip edges, as well as considering that a nail polish is
sometimes an unstable barrier against glycerine, resulting in the glycerine leaking out,
other mounting media are often used and sometimes also other more complex techni-
ques are suggested, if special detailed taxonomic examination is to be done and/or
specimens are to be prepared for museum collections (see DANIELOPOL 1982; ATHER-
SUCH et al. 1989; MEISCH 2000). Commonly used mounting media for such purposes
include polyvinyl lactophenol (PVL), Hydro-Matrix and glycerine jelly, or rarely Eupa-
ral and Canada balsam. It has to be warned that some of these agents may be harmful,
therefore special care must be taken and the preparation has to be carried out in pro-
perly ventilated laboratories. The mounting medium should also be selected depending
on the clearing effect, the purpose of the mount, the type of microscopy employed or
the preservation time. Consult KOOMEN & VAUPEL KLEIN (1995) for more details. Speci-
mens can be dissected in glycerine (as described above) and then transferred to the
eventual mounting medium. However, if the dissection can be completed within a few
minutes, i.e., before a mountant becomes dry, it is always practical to dissect directly
in the permanent medium, rather than to attempt to move small dissected pieces as it
may result in their loss.
According to ATHERSUCH et al. (1989), specimens can be dissected in a glycerine
drop at one end of a glass slide and then dissected appendages should be transferred
and carefully arranged in a sequence in a PVL film on a cover-slip placed on the other
end of the slide. The appendage arrangement should be accomplished within 5–10 min
before the medium becomes too viscous. Next, after allowing the mounting medium to
dry slightly for a few minutes to fix the appendage positions, the cover-slip should be
overturned and slowly laid with forceps over a drop or a streak of PVL placed in the
centre of the glass slide. This should be done gently to avoid air bubble formation. Let
the mounting medium extend to the edges of the cover-slip and stabilise. At room tem-
perature the mounted appendages are usually ready for examination after a few days.
PVL does not require sealing if stored horizontally in room temperature but it is recom-
mended to use a clear nail polish or melted paraffin as sealing materials for longer sto-
rage or shipping of the slides.
Instead of PVL, MEISCH (2000) recommends the use of Hydro-Matrix which is
likewise soluble in water and alcohol, but in contrast to PLV it is not toxic.
DANIELOPOL (1982) describes the mounting method in glycerine jelly between two
cover-slips fasten to an aluminium holder, which allows the observation of the dissec-
ted appendages from both sides of the mount. The appendages dissected in glycerine
are transferred and arranged in melted (warmed to about 40 °C) glycerine jelly, spread
as a thin film in one cover-slip (size 24 × 24 mm), which is first attached with plastici-
ne to a glass slide. After a few hours of drying, the dissected appendages should be
coated by a new film of warm jelly, and finally covered by the other cover-slip (size
18 × 18 mm) with small pieces of plasticine attached at the four corners, which pre-
vents squashing of the thicker appendages. When glycerine jelly is dry, which takes
usually 3–6 hours, the mount must be sealed by Canada balsam, Eukit or Murrayite for
permanent storage. In the final step, the preparation should be unattached from the
glass slide and fixed in an aluminium holder with the circular hole.
Although there are a number of various staining techniques available, some rela-
tively simple which can be easily employed are recommendable to aid in the observa-
tion of fine details of the dissected appendages. Staining is especially advisable when
a mounting medium with a strong clearing effect is used, i.e., lightening the chitin and
eventually making dissected appendages difficult to see. Staining may be performed
either before dissection or stains may be added to the ultimate mounting medium.
Stains, which produce satisfactory results in ostracods include Methylene Blue, Lignin
Pink or Chlorazol Black. The preferred stain is simply just mixed with the mounting me-
dium (DANIELOPOL 1982; ATHERSUCH et al. 1989; MEISCH 2000).
Finally, SEM is extremely useful in studying details of the finest soft body structu-
res. However, appendages for SEM require special techniques, e.g., freeze-drying or
critical-point-drying. As this is beyond the scope of this primer, for more details the rea-
der is referred to SANDBERG (1970), ATHERSUCH et al. (1989), MATZKE-KARASZ (1995),
MEISCH (2000) or DANIELOPOL et al. (2002) and references therein.
We are indebted to Martin GROSS (Universalmuseum Joanneum, Graz) who suggested
the present topic for the workshop “Methods in Ostracodology 2” and encouraged us to
complete this paper. We also thank Finn VIEHBERG (Universität zu Köln) for his valuable
and useful comments.
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Authors addresses:
Tadeusz Namiotko
University of Gdansk, Department of Genetics, Laboratory of Limnozoology, Kładki 24,
80-822 Gdansk, Poland
Dan L. Danielopol
Commission for the Stratigraphical & Palaeontological Research of Austria, Austrian
Academy of Sciences, c/o Institute of Earth Sciences (Geology & Palaeontology),
University of Graz, Heinrichstrasse 26, A-8010 Graz, Austria
Angel Baltanás
Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (Edif. Biología), Departamento Ecología, c/Darwin 2
E-28049 Madrid, Spain
City of Graz.
... All samples were preserved in 4% formaldehyde, and fauna was determined using selected keys: for Copepoda e.g., [18,[40][41][42] and Ostracoda [23,[43][44][45]. Prior to the identification, ostracods (intact complete specimens with limbs as well as empty carapaces and valves) were rinsed in water, transferred to 96% ethanol and then analysed following Namiotko et al. [46]. Investigated specimens were identified to the species or the lowest possible taxonomic level (genus). ...
... The former species was originally described by Sywula [23] from a well at Cisna village in the Bieszczady Mts. and further recorded in wells and interstitial habitats of the Lublin Upland and Carpathian Mountains (in Poland) ( Table 3) and in north-eastern Romania [27]. Typhlocypris eremita is the type and the most-widespread species of the genus, occurring in groundwaters of Central and South-Eastern Europe [46], mainly as all-female (parthenogenetic) populations. As the male genital morphology offers better characteristics than that of female on which to define the species in the genus Typhlocypris, it is not unlikely that some of recorded populations could represent different species, as documented by Iepure et al. [67]. ...
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Data on Crustacea from underground waters accessed through wells are limited in Poland. A recent study was undertaken to determine diversity and factors influencing the crustacean communities inhabiting wells drilled in three bedrocks, Jurassic limestone, Cretaceous marls and flysch. A total of 23 crustacean species and subspecies were recorded belonging to Copepoda, Ostracoda, Amphipoda and Bathynellacea. Only four species of low abundance, however, were stygobionts. Our studies showed that abundance and species number of Copepoda and Ostracoda were affected by bedrock geology (with higher abundances and species richness in wells of Cretaceous marls), and in the case of copepods, also by sampling season. Furthermore, this paper lists all species of Crustacea recorded from inland groundwater habitats of Poland based published over the last 133 years. The most species-rich group was Copepoda with 43 representatives (four stygobites), followed by Ostracoda and Amphipoda with a total of 37 and 12 species, respectively (each with nine stygobites). In addition, two species of Isopoda (one stygobite) and one Bathynellid appear in the checklist. The checklist identifies geographical (and environmental) gaps which require further research.
... Disarticulated valves were counted as 0.5 individuals. When necessary for the identification, dissections were done following Namiotko et al. (2011). Ostracods were identified at the species level whenever possible, following mostly Meisch (2000) and Karanovic (2012), and references therein. ...
... In the laboratory, individual specimens were isolated using Pasteur pipettes under a Leica M205 C stereoscope. Ostracod dissections followed Namiotko et al. (2011). Soft parts were placed in a glass slide with HydroMatrix ® for permanent preparations, and valves were stored dry in micropaleontological slides. ...
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The two widespread ostracod genera Cypria Zenker, 1854 and Physocypria Vávra, 1897 are traditionally distinguished based on the presence or absence of tubercles on the right valve margin. However, recent research based on soft body parts has uncovered new cryptic genera within Cypria and Physocypria. Following this line of research, a new Cyclocyprididae genus and species, Vizcainocypria viator gen. nov. sp. nov., is here described from individuals collected in rice fields and wetlands of the Iberian Peninsula. Vizcainocypria is compared with Cypria, Physocypria, Dentocypria Savatenalinton, 2017, Keysercypria Karanovic, 2011, Brasilocypria Almeida et al., 2023, and Claudecypria Almeida et al., 2023 based on morphological evidence. Besides the presence or absence of tubercles on the right valve, these genera can be distinguished according to their mandibular palp, second thoracopod, caudal ramus, and male hemipenis. Molecular analyses using mitochondrial (COX1), and nuclear (28S rDNA) genes provide further support for the differentiation of Cypria, Dentocypria, Physocypria and Vizcainocypria gen. nov. The present study highlights the importance of using an integrative taxonomy approach, combining shell and soft-body parts morphology and molecular data, to characterize the rich diversity of freshwater ostracods.
... In the laboratory, individual specimens were isolated using Pasteur pipettes under a Leica M205 C stereoscope. Ostracod dissections followed Namiotko et al. (2011). Soft parts were placed in a glass slide with HydroMatrix ® for permanent preparations, and valves were stored dry in micropaleontological slides. ...
The two widespread ostracod genera Cypria Zenker, 1854 and Physocypria Vávra, 1897 are traditionally distinguished based on the presence or absence of tubercles on the right valve margin. However, recent research based on soft body parts has uncovered new cryptic genera within Cypria and Physocypria. Following this line of research, a new Cyclocyprididae genus and species, Vizcainocypria viator gen. nov. sp. nov., is here described from individuals collected in rice fields and wetlands of the Iberian Peninsula. Vizcainocypria is compared with Cypria, Physocypria, Dentocypria Savatenalinton, 2017, Keysercypria Karanovic, 2011, Brasilocypria Almeida et al., 2023, and Claudecypria Almeida et al., 2023 based on morphological evidence. Besides the presence or absence of tubercles on the right valve, these genera can be distinguished according to their mandibular palp, second thoracopod, caudal ramus, and male hemipenis. Molecular analyses using mitochondrial (COX1), and nuclear (28S rDNA) genes provide further support for the differentiation of Cypria, Dentocypria, Physocypria and Vizcainocypria gen. nov. The present study highlights the importance of using an integrative taxonomy approach, combining shell and soft-body parts morphology and molecular data, to characterize the rich diversity of freshwater ostracods.
... In the laboratory, samples were thoroughly rewashed with tap water through a 120 µm-mesh sieve, placed in plastic jars and preserved in fresh 96% ethanol. Specimens were sorted, counted, dissected, and mounted using a binocular and light transmission microscope according to Namiotko et al. (2011). Soft parts of dissected ostracods were mounted in glycerin or Hydro-Matrix mounting medium, whereas valves were stored dry on micropalaeontological slides. ...
Full-text available
Two new Cypridopsinae ostracods, Potamocypris meissneri sp. nov. and Sarscypridopsis harundineti sp. nov. are described. Both were found only as asexual (all-female) populations in temporary waters of southern Africa. Potamocypris meissneri was collected from a small pan in the North-West Province of South Africa. It is approximately 0.5 mm long and belongs to the species group with long swimming setae on the second antennae. However, the species has a somewhat isolated position in the genus owing to the conspicuously reticulated carapace, which is furthermore densely covered by prominent conuli with normal pores carrying long sensilla, as well as to the wide anterior and posterior flanges on the left valve. To allow identification of the new species in relation to its closest congeners, a key to the species of the genus Potamocypris Brady, 1870 from southern Africa is provided. The genus Sarscypridopsis McKenzie, 1977 mostly has an Afrotropical distribution with only few species occurring in other regions. Sarscypridopsis harundineti was collected from floodplains of the outskirts of the Okavango Delta in Botswana. It is approximately 0.4 mm long and can be distinguished from congeners mainly by the smaller and more oval-shaped valves. We conclude that southern African Cypridopsinae urgently need integrated taxonomic revision, by means of both morphological characters and DNA-sequence data.
... All other ostracod individuals were sorted out from net samples in the laboratory under a stereomicroscope, and identified to species level following mostly Meisch (2000). Ostracod dissections closely followed Namiotko et al. (2011); specimens with the valves open were placed in a drop of glycerin and the soft parts were dissected using fine needles. These body parts were then placed in a microscope slide and submersed in Hydromatrix® for permanent preparations, or kept in glycerin and the cover slide sealed with nail polish. ...
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The genus Cypris, considered the oldest ostracod generic name erected using the Linnean system, comprises a reduced number of large-bodied species, mostly found in Africa and Asia. Only six of them are known to occur in Europe. Here we describe a new species, Cypris pretusi sp. nov., collected in small temporary streams and ponds along the Eastern Iberian Peninsula and Minorca (Balearic Islands). The new species is very close to the type species of the genus, Cypris pubera O.F. Müller, 1776, but differs from it in having a set of smaller subequal spines on the posterior edge of the valves, by the absence of conspicuous spines along the front edge, and by the beak-like frontal shape of its carapace in dorsal view, similar to Cypris decaryi Gauthier, 1933. Soft parts are very similar to the type species, but it differs in having shorter swimming setae on the second antennae. Molecular analyses of the COX1 region support its status as a species distinct from C. pubera and closer to Cypris bispinosa Lucas, 1849, also providing evidence for a separation of C. pubera s.l. in two clades, one of which is here considered to correspond to Cypris triaculeata Daday, 1892. We discuss the relationships of C. pretusi sp. nov. to other members of the genus and its possible origin from nearby biogeographic regions (probably Africa or Asia) and provide a key to species of Cypris found in Europe. We also discuss the relationship between Monoculus concha pedata (= M. conchaceus), the first ostracod named by Linnæus, and Cypris pubera, the type species of the genus, described by Müller in 1776 and considered by him the same species as the one first named by Linnæus.
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Botswana constitutes a major gap in our knowledge of the distribution of Ostracoda in the region of Southern Africa, restraining thorough biogeographic interpretations. We combine records from previously published surveys along with our own field collections to provide a collation of living and fossil (Late Pleistocene to Holocene) Ostracoda recorded in Botswana. Our survey yielded 17 species, of which nine species have not been recorded before in the country. Including the present update, 54 species (45 living and nine fossil or subfossil) belonging to 22 genera of five families (with 76% species belonging to the family Cyprididae) are currently reported from Botswana. Yet, 23 taxa are left in open nomenclature, indicating the urgent need for sound systematic studies on harmonizing taxonomy of Southern African ostracods, especially of those inhabiting small temporary waterbodies, considered as threatened with extinction before being properly described or discovered. This updated checklist provides detailed information about the distribution and habitat of each recorded species. Species richness, distribution patterns, and diversity of ostracod species regionally and in different freshwater ecoregions are also discussed. We found low alpha (site) diversity (mean 3.3 species per site) and a significant difference in species composition and beta diversity of the Okavango ecoregion versus the Kalahari and Zambezian Lowveld ecoregions.
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Sulphidic cave ecosystems are remarkable evolutionary hotspots that have witnessed adaptive radiation of their fauna represented by extremophile species having particular traits. Ostracods, a very old group of crustaceans, exhibit specific morphological and ecophysiological features that enable them to thrive in groundwater sulphidic environments. Herein, we report a peculiar new ostracod species Pseudocandona movilaensis sp. nov. thriving in the chemoautotrophic sulphidic groundwater ecosystem of Movile Cave (Romania). The new species displays a set of homoplastic features specific for unrelated stygobitic species, for e.g., triangular carapace in lateral view with reduced postero–dorsal part and simplification of limb chaetotaxy (i.e., loss of some claws and reduction of secondary male sex characteristics), driven by a convergent or parallel evolution during or after colonization of the groundwater realm. P. movilaensis sp. nov. thrives exclusively in sulphidic meso-thermal waters (21°C) with high concentrations of sulphides, methane, and ammonium. Based on the geometric morphometrics-based study of the carapace shape and molecular phylogenetic analyses based on the COI marker (mtDNA), we discuss the phylogenetic relationship and evolutionary implication for the new species to thrive in groundwater sulphidic groundwater environments.
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Limnocythere inopinata (Baird, 1843) is a Holarctic species, abundant in a number of Recent and fossil ostracod assemblages, and has many important taxonomic and (paleo)ecological applications. However, the life cycle and morphological characteristics of the living L. inopinata are still unclear. A bioculture experiment was designed to study life stages and morphological variations from stage A-8 to adult in this species. The living animals were collected from Lake Jiang-Co, in the northern Tibetan Plateau. Results reveal that this species possesses a special growth pattern with the maximum size increase occurring at the transition from the instars A-5 to A-4. The growth pattern deviates from Brooks’ rule and one population from Lake Dali, eastern Mongolian Plateau. This suggests that the life history of L. inopinata may be influenced by environmental factors. Some morphological differences between Lake Jiang-Co and European populations of L. inopinata are also uncovered. Therefore, a detailed morphological description of this population is provided, but refrain from erecting a new species at the present stage because those differences appear to be inconsistent.
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The aim of the present study is to study the meiobenthic invertebrate's community associated with the aquatic plant Ceratophyllum demersum in Al-Salamiyat irrigation canal / north Baghdad, with the chemical and physical parameters of the canal water, during the study period from September 2015 to May 2016. Two sites were chosen for sample collection, the first site (S1) at the beginning of the canal near it's connection with Tigris river, and the second site (S2) after 10 km from the first site. The chemico-physical analysis results revealed that the water temperature ranged from 10-30oC, and pH values ranged between 6.9-7.8, and the dissolved oxygen concentration and the BOD values from 7.2-9.2 mg/l, and 1.2-5.4 mg/l, respectively. The salinity values were ranged between 0.45 and 0.86 ‰, and the total suspended solids were changed 357-674mg/l. A total of 9089 individuals of meiobethic invertebrates were sorted out from C. demersum during the study perid , representing 34 species including Hydra oligactis (Hydrozoa , Cnidaria); two species of Turbellaria ( Platyhelminthes); five species of Nematoda; seven species of Rotifera; 14 species of aquatic Oligochaeta (Annelida); four Crustacea, and one species of chironomid larva species, in addition to recording one individual of Tardigrada from (S2). The highest total number of meiobenthic invertebrates of 5600 individuals were recorded at (S2), while at (S1) less number of (3489) individuals were reported. Four species were recognized as a new records for Iraqi fauna, including Hydra oligactis (Hydrozoa:Cnidaria); Macrostomum tuba (Platyhelminthes: Turbellaria(, Dero cooperi (Annelida:Oligochaeta,) and Stenocypris hislopi )Crustacea: Otracoda(.
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Anaesthesia of animals may be useful for different purposes, particularly for veterinary reasons or in experimental research, for manipulation or treatment of immobilized but alive animals. Its use in crustaceans is not uncommon, but it has never been described for Ostracoda. We provide brief and preliminary guidelines on the use of the tricaine mesylate (MS-222) on the widespread freshwater ostracod Eucypris virens and we show that this compound is an effective anaesthetic used as a bath treatment at minimum concentrations of 500 mg L-1. This value is considerably higher than that recommended for other aquatic animals like fish. Recovery time, ranging from 5 to 15 minutes, is mostly determined by anaesthetic bath concentration, while bath duration influenced to a lesser extent. Anaesthesia induced with MS-222 can prove useful for minute manipulation of living ostracods e.g. for identification, marking or image capture under the microscope.
The sexual dimorphism in the chaetotaxy of the antenna in various species of Sclerocypris is studied and described. Relying on larval morphology, a homology between the patterns in the two sexes is deduced and a suitable nomenclature for the apomorphic male condition is proposed. The differences observed are in all probability related to the function of the male antenna during copulation.
The species Darwinula stevensoni is extensively redescribed. Morphological variability of both valves and soft parts is assessed in several geographically and climatically distant populations and is found to be minimal or non-existant. Only size significantly varies between populations and this can be attributed to the differences in ambient temperatures during the larval development. Number and shape of muscle scars also vary, but this both within and between populations. Valve shape and chaetotaxy of limbs are remarkably constant. One female from an Italian population has aberrant Mx2-palps, but this specimen is considered a teratological case. Earlier records of males of D. stevensoni and the taxonomic position of the infraorder Darwinulocopina within the suborder Podocopina are briefly rediscussed. A hypothesis on the biological strategy of darwinulids is tested using data on morphological variability and taxonomic diversity.