Class Ostracoda Seed Shrimp

The 6650 species of seed or mussel shrimp are minute crustaceans characterized by a protective, dorsal, bivalved carapace of chitin heavily impregnated with calcium carbonate. Freshwater species rarely exceed 3 mm in length, but marine taxa can reach 30 mm. Ostracodes are especially prevalent in freshwater habitats (particularly benthic areas) but are common in marine environments. A few genera have adapted to damp humus habitats of the forest floor. Ostracods are typically suspension feeders on benthic and pelagic detritus, and almost all are free-living.

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