As currently understood, the crustacean order Leptostraca comprises 10 genera and 39 species. These predominantly benthic organisms occur in marine environments worldwide, associated with habitats ranging from coral reefs to hydrothermal vents. Despite their ubiquity and a reasonably long history of descriptive work on the group, the order Leptostraca has been badly in need of taxonomic revision. As our work on the group and that of others (e.g., J. Moreira, J. Olesen) continues, our understanding of the group's diversity is improving.
Static key | Interactive key
The DELTA system is a set of programs used for the development of interactive taxonomic keys and natural language descriptions. The software serves as a powerful tool for managing anatomical (i.e., character) data and for constructing output directly from such data.
Follow the link to find details of some of the protocols used to obtain and analyze genetic data. We make use of well equipped molecular laboratories both at UCLA and at the Natural History Museum for the direct sequencing of selected gene fragments.
Research on the systematics of the Leptostraca is sponsored by the PEET program of the National Science Foundation.
This section will be revised to serve as an informative atlas of leptostracan anatomy, and to some extent that of Crustacea in general. A broader array of scanning electron micrographs and line drawings will be available. Some original line drawings are available via our Gallery link, and definitions of morphological terms can be accessed via our Glossary link.
for images and character list
New insights on the biology of leptostracans come primarily from first-hand study of the animals. The specimens studied are both from collections of museums worldwide and those collected from our own fieldwork. Interesting finds are coming to light every month, whether representing leptostracan species new to science or new information regarding the ecology and distribution of these crustaceans. For these discoveries, we also thank the many colleagues who send specimens us from around the globe.
This database includes taxonomic information on the nominal species of Leptostraca. Such information includes not only the binomen but the names of the describing authors, synonymies, and geographic ranges.
Surf the taxon database
Using the collections database, you can view the holdings of leptostracan specimens at the following museums. These 5 institutions house the world's largest collections of leptostracans and the vast majority of the original, name-bearing specimens.
National Museum of Natural History (Smithsonian)
Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
The Natural History Museum (London)
Zoologisk Museum (Copenhagen)
Canadian Museum of Nature (Ottawa)
Go to Collections Database
The reference database includes citations related to all aspects of research on the subclass Phyllocarida; that is, the living Leptostraca and their extinct relatives.
Go to Reference Database