Features » Africa’s largest known freshwater copepod described

Dr Tatenda Dalu collecting water from one of the ephemeral ponds found to contain Lovenula raynerae, the new species of copepod   Lovenula raynerae sampled from the Grahamstown region. Male (lower left) and female (upper right. Note the eggs carried by the female.

A new species of copepod collected near Grahamstown has just been described. The most striking thing about Lovenula raynerae is its size. It is among the world’s largest freshwater copepods (4-5 mm), and is likely the largest of all African copepods. Even more impressive is that this group of crustaceans produce eggs that are capable of withstanding dry conditions for extended periods of time.

Postdoctoral Research Fellow at SAIAB, Dr Ryan Wasserman, writes that despite Grahamstown being a hotspot for Southern African aquatic biodiversity research, this little crustacean had managed to fly under the radar and avoid attention until recently.

The fact that such a conspicuous crustacean could be overlooked in one of Africa’s aquatic research hotspots highlights the nation’s current lack of invertebrate taxonomic expertise. Read more