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Cumaceans: Cumacea

Behavior And Reproduction

Cumaceans spend most of their time in mud or sand. They need to stay close to the surface so they can move oxygen-carrying water over their gills. The first pair of maxillipeds is used to move water forward from the walking legs through the carapace toward the head. Some species leave the bottom and swim up into the water after dark.


So little is known about cumaceans that it is unlikely that anyone would know if any species were threatened or endangered. They are sometimes found in large numbers, but their distributions are patchy in both small areas and over large distances. Under these circumstances it is difficult to determine if a drop in population numbers or their absence is a result of some environmental disturbance, or simply part of a little-understood natural cycle.

Males and females are required for reproduction. In most species the males spend at least some of their time swimming in open water in search of a mate. In some species the males do not swim, but have special antennae that are used to grab the female's abdomen. They hang on to their mates with their antennae until they have mated. Females carry their eggs in a special brood pouch under the thorax until they hatch. The larvae (LAR-vee) do not live in open water like most other crustaceans. Instead, they live in the same places as the adults and molt, or shed their exoskeletons, until they reach adulthood. Once they reach adulthood, they stop molting.

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceMollusks, Crustaceans, and Related SpeciesCumaceans: Cumacea - Physical Characteristics, Behavior And Reproduction, No Common Name (cyclaspis Longicaudata): Species Account - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, DIET, CUMACEANS AND PEOPLE, CONSERVATION STATUS