Marine and Freshwater Research Marine and Freshwater Research Society
Advances in the aquatic sciences

An efficient method for collecting large samples of live copepods free from detritus

Carl J. Svensson A C , Glenn A. Hyndes B and Paul S. Lavery B
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, and Centre for Marine Bio-Innovation, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia.

B Centre for Marine Ecosystems Research, School of Natural Sciences, Edith Cowan University, 270 Joondalup Drive, Joondalup, WA 6027, Australia.

C Corresponding author. Email:

Marine and Freshwater Research 61(5) 621-624
Submitted: 13 July 2009  Accepted: 20 September 2009   Published: 28 May 2010


Meiofauna are often important in the transfer of organic material to higher trophic levels in aquatic environments. However, in food web analysis the group is frequently pooled or ignored owing to the difficulty in isolating individual components of the assemblage. In this study, we developed and tested a new method for extracting photopositive and detritus-free copepod samples from sediments, and compared this method to a previous technique (Couch 1989). In our initial trials, ~400 copepods (all orders included) were collected in 15 min compared with 60 copepods using Couch’s method. In subsequent trials that focussed on specific orders of copepods, our method was at least 10 times more efficient than Couch’s method at collecting cyclopoid and harpacticoid copepods from sediments. The new method requires very little supervision and there is no requirement for a particular intensity of light. This method can increase the collection of large numbers of photopositive copepods in aquatic systems, and thereby facilitate the inclusion of this important component into future food web studies, particularly those using biomarkers such as stable isotopes or fatty acids.

Additional keywords: copepods, cyclopoids, extraction efficiency, harpacticoids, meiofauna, photopositive, sampling.


We thank Jo-Anne Blunn for her help in collecting sediment samples and carrying out the efficiency experiment. We also thank the two anonymous referees and the editor for constructive comments that helped improve this manuscript. This study was jointly funded by Edith Cowan University (ECU), the Swedish research council FORMAS, project No. 2007–449, and the Western Australian Department of Water. The research was conducted under the approval of the ECU animal ethics committee.


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