Australian Biological Resources Study

Australian Faunal Directory




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Order DECAPODA Latreille, 1802


The Decapoda is the most diverse of the eucaridean orders. It contains almost all of the best known, edible and commercially important crustacean species, including the shrimps, prawns, lobsters and crabs. Decapoda literally means ten-legs, and takes its name from the five pairs of pereiopods.

Decapods are primarily marine, but have conquered most environments from the abyssal depths (even including hydrothermal vents), to the intertidal, freshwater, mountain and desert habitats. Jones & Morgan (1994) provided a good popular account of the diversity of Australian decapods. McLaughlin (1980) provided an excellent overview of decapod morphology. Higher classification follows Bowman & Abele (1982), but has been modified at the family level to take account of more recent views.

Higher taxa authorship follows Poore (2016)



Eucarid malacostracans having first three pairs of thoracic appendages modified as maxillipeds; remaining five pairs forming pereiopods for locomotion; usually one or more pairs of pereiopods terminating in chelae; first pair, or sometimes second pair, often enlarged and stronger (termed chelipeds); pereiopods mostly without exopods in adults, but these may be present in larvae. Head and thoracic segments fused dorsally, with carapace overhanging laterally to enclose gills in lateral branchial chambers. Abdomen may be well developed, elongate, and end in a tailfan formed by telson and uropods, or may be variously reduced and flattened, ultimately being folded under the thorax, with tailfan lost. Abdomen bearing paired ventral pleopods that may be lost or reduced to varying degrees; males often with first one or two pairs modified for copulation (gonopods). In natant taxa, pleopods used for locomotion. In suborder Pleocyemata female pleopods used for egg-attachment, the eggs hatch as zoea; in suborder Dendrobranchiata eggs not carried by female, hatch as nauplius.


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-Dec-2019 DECAPODA Latreille, 1802 09-Aug-2018 MODIFIED Dr Shane Ahyong
12-Feb-2010 (import)