Australian Biological Resources Study

Australian Faunal Directory


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Order CUMACEA Krøyer, 1846

Compiler and date details

Helen E. Stoddart & James K. Lowry


Cumaceans are small benthic peracaridans usually found in soft sediments. They are mainly deposit-feeders. There are no parasitic forms. They have an adult male swimming stage which is considered to be a searching stage for reproductively mature females. Family level classification is difficult. During their taxonomic history cumaceans have been divided into between four and 26 family level groups. There are currently eight recognised families of which six are reported from Australian waters. As in the Amphipoda,virtually nothing is known of the evolutionary history or phylogenetic relationships within the Cumacea (Gerken 2001). There are currently about 1250 described species of which 228 are known from Australian waters. Bodotriidae and Gynodiastylidae, the two largest Australian families, have about 82 species each. Although Australian cumaceans appear diverse at the generic level (39 genera), Cyclaspis (52 species) in the Bodotriidae and Litogynodiastylis (28 species) and Gynodiastylis (23 species) both in the Gynodiastylidae, make up nearly half of Australian species diversity.

Synopsis of Australian Cumacean Taxonomy

Our understanding of the Australian cumacean fauna has benefited greatly from the work of a small number of careful taxonomists who have described the overwhelming majority of the fauna. The first important worker was Zimmer (1914, 1921) who described 14 species from southern Australia. Between 1928 and 1953 Herbert Hale, in a series of 18 wonderfully crafted papers, described 142 cumacean species from southern Australian waters. Description of the fauna lay dormant until Bacescu (1990, 1991, 1992) described six species from the North West Shelf in the first work on cumaceans from northern Australian waters. Tafe & Greenwood (1996a, 1996b) then described 14 species from Moreton Bay, Queensland, further developing the northern fauna. Recently, Gerken (2001) published a major monograph revising the gynodiastylid component of the fauna and adding an additonal 38 species. These works have made the Australian cumacean fauna (currently 228 species) one of the best described and understood Australian peracaridan groups. The references listed below are the essential literature for the study of Australian cumacean taxonomy.

Diagnostic Descriptions of Families

If males and females are considered together, then it is not possible to diagnose cumacean families. Using males only it is possible to diagnose all families except for the Bodotriidae and Nannastacidae which will not separate. Using females all families can be distinguished.

The diagnostic descriptions are based on diagnoses generated from a DELTA (Dallwitz et al. 1993, 1998) database of cumacean higher level taxa. Each description contains the complete set of diagnostic characters for each cumacean higher level taxon. Characters in bold text refer to the unique combination of character states which will define each taxon against all others at that rank.

The monophyly of the order was confirmed by the phylogenetic analysis of Gerken et al. (2021).



Carapace present; thoracomere 1–3 fused to head (bearing maxillipeds). Eyes sessile. Antenna 1 typically biramous (inner ramus reduced). Maxillipeds with basal and ischial endites. Thoracopods 4–8 (pereopods 1–7) biramous, coxae not forming plates. Pleopods, 5 pairs, usually absent in female, variously reduced in male. Uropods, 1 pair. Young released from brood pouch as mancae. Male usually with a pair of tubercles on sternum of pereonite 5; female gonopores on pereonite 3.


General References

Bacescu, M. 1990. New Cumacea from northern Australian waters. Beaufortia 41(2): 9-13

Bacescu, M. 1991. Campylaspis wardi n.sp. and Gynodiastylis nordaustraliana n.sp. from littoral waters of northern Australia. Travaux du Muséum d'Histoire Naturelle "Grigore Antipa" 31: 317-322

Bacescu, M. 1992. Sur quelques Cyclaspis (Crustacea, Cumacea) des eaux NW d'Australie. Travaux du Muséum d'Histoire Naturelle "Grigore Antipa" 32: 251-256

Calman, W.T. 1905. The Cumacea of the Siboga expedition. Siboga Expéditie Monographie 36: 1-23

Calman, W.T. 1911. On new or rare Crustacea of the order Cumacea from the collection of the Copenhagen Museum. Part II. The families Nannastacidae and Diastylidae. Transactions of the Zoological Society of London 18: 341-398 pls 32-37

Dallwitz, M.J., Paine, T.A. & Zurcher, E.J. 1993. (onwards). User's Guide to the DELTA System: a General System for Processing Taxonomic Descriptions. 4th edition.

Dallwitz, M.J., Paine, T.A. & Zurcher, E.J. 1998. Interactive keys. pp. 201-212 in Bridge, P., Jeffries, P., Morse, D.R. & Scott, P.R. (eds). Information Technology, Plant Pathology and Biodiversity. Wallingford : CAB International.

Foxon, G.E.H. 1932. Report on stomatopod larvae, Cumacea and Cladocera. Scientific Reports of the Great Barrier Reef Expedition 1928-1929 4: 375-398

Gerken, S. 2001. The Gynodiastylidae (Crustacea: Cumacea). Memoirs of Museum Victoria 59(1): 1-276

Gerken, S., Meland, K., & Glenner, H. 2021. First multigene phylogeny of Cumacea (crustacea: Peracarida). Zoologica Scripta 51: 460-477

Greenwood, J.G. & Johnston, M.G. 1967. A new species of Glyphocuma (Cumacea: Bodotriidae) from Moreton Bay, Queensland. Proceedings of the Royal Society of Queensland 79(8): 93-98

Hale, H.M. 1928. Australian Cumacea. Transactions of the Royal Society of South Australia 52: 31-48

Hale, H.M. 1932. A cumacean new to South Australia. Records of the South Australian Museum (Adelaide) 4: 549-550

Hale, H.M. 1936a. Three new Cumacea from South Australia. Records of the South Australian Museum (Adelaide) 5: 395-403

Hale, H.M. 1936b. Cumacea from a South Australian reef. Records of the South Australian Museum (Adelaide) 5: 404-438

Hale, H.M. 1937. Further notes on the Cumacea of South Australian reefs. Records of the South Australian Museum (Adelaide) 6: 61-74

Hale, H.M. 1943. Notes on two sand-dwelling Cumacea (Gephyrocuma and Picrocuma). Records of the South Australian Museum (Adelaide) 7: 337-342

Hale, H.M. 1944a. Australian Cumacea. No. 7 The genus Cyclaspis. Records of the South Australian Museum (Adelaide) 8: 63-142

Hale, H.M. 1944b. Australian Cumacea. No. 8 The family Bodotriidae. Transactions of the Royal Society of South Australia 68: 225-285

Hale, H.M. 1945a. Australian Cumacea. No. 9 The family Nannastacidae. Records of the South Australian Museum (Adelaide) 8: 145-218

Hale, H.M. 1945b. Australian Cumacea. No. 10 The family Leuconidae. Transactions of the Royal Society of South Australia 69: 86-95

Hale, H.M. 1945c. Australian Cumacea. No. 11 The family Diastylidae (Part 1). Transactions of the Royal Society of South Australia 69: 173-211

Hale, H.M. 1946a. Australian Cumacea. No. 12 The family Diastylidae (Part 2). Gynodiastylis and related genera. Records of the South Australian Museum (Adelaide) 8: 357-444

Hale, H.M. 1946b. Australian Cumacea. No. 13 The family Lampropidae. Transactions of the Royal Society of South Australia 70: 178-188

Hale, H.M. 1948. Australian Cumacea. No. 14 Further notes on the genus Cyclaspis. Records of the South Australian Museum (Adelaide) 9: 1-42

Hale, H.M. 1949a. Australian Cumacea. No. 15 The family Bodotriidae (cont.). Records of the South Australian Museum (Adelaide) 9: 107-125

Hale, H.M. 1949b. Australian Cumacea. No. 16 The family Nannastacidae. Records of the South Australian Museum (Adelaide) 9: 225-245

Hale, H.M. 1951. Australian Cumacea. No. 17 The family Diastylidae (cont.). Records of the South Australian Museum (Adelaide) 9: 353-370

Hale, H.M. 1953. Australian Cumacea. No. 18 Notes on distribution and night collecting with artificial light. Transactions of the Royal Society of South Australia 76: 70-76

Jones, N.S. 1969. The systematics and distribution of Cumacea from depths exceeding 200 meters. Galathea Report 10: 99-179

Lomakina, N.B. 1967. New species of Cumacea collected by the Soviet Antarctic Expedition at south-eastern Australia and in the north of Indian Ocean. Akademii Nauk SSSR Zoologicheskogo Instituta Opredeliteli po Faune SSSR 43: 99-108 [in Russian]

Sars, G.O. 1887. Report on the Cumacea collected by H.M.S. Challenger during the years 1873–76. Report on the Scientific Results of the Voyage of H.M.S. Challenger 1873–1876, Zoology 19: 1-78 pls 1-10

Tafe, D.J. & Greenwood, J.G. 1996a. A new species of Schizotrema (Cumacea: Nannastacidae) from Moreton Bay, Queensland. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 39(2): 381-389

Tafe, D.J. & Greenwood, J.G. 1996b. The Bodotriidae (Crustacea: Cumacea) of Moreton Bay, Queensland. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 39(2): 391-482

Zimmer, C. 1914. Cumacea. In Michaelsen, W. & Hartmeyer, R. (eds). Die Fauna Südwest-Australiens. Ergebn. Hamb. Südwest-Aust. Forsch. 1905 5(2): 175–195.

Zimmer, C. 1921. Results of Dr. E. Mjöberg's Swedish scientific expeditions to Australia 1910–13 XXVI. Cumaceen. Kongliga Svenska Vetenskaps-Academiens Nya Handlingar, Stockholm 61: 1-13


History of changes

Note that this list may be incomplete for dates prior to September 2013.
Published As part of group Action Date Action Type Compiler(s)
05-Aug-2022 26-Feb-2019 MODIFIED
12-Feb-2010 (import)