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Phylum Arthropoda
Subphylum Crustacea
Subclass Ostracoda
Order Halocyprida
Family Halocyprididae

Spelaeoecia bermudensis Angel & Iliffe, 1987

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Spelaeoecia bermudensis: lateral and dorsal views, after Kornicker, 1989

Taxonomic Characterization: Spelaeoecia bermudensis has a broad infold except along the hinge. Each valve of the carapace locking structure has 1 or 2 narrow sclerotized ridges between the posterior juncture of hinge and the posterodorsal corner of valve. The central adductor muscle attachments consist of about 9 individual ovoid scars. The first antenna is without bristle on the 6th joint. The Bellonci organ tapers distally in lateral view and bifurcates at 2/3 length. S. bermudensis has appendages almost identical to those of Deeveya but a carapace with a rostrum typical of other halocyprids. The fifth limb of the male bears a large sensory organ that is absent on the limbs of the adult female as well as the juvenile male, and has not been reported previously in the suborder Halocypridina (Angel & Iliffe, 1987; Kornicker, 1989).

Disposition of Specimens: Type specimens were deposited in the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC and British Museum (Natural History); female holotype from Green Bay Cave (USNM 228468); paratypes USNM 228469 and British Museum (Natural History) Nos. 1986.324 -334.

Ecological Classification: Stygobitic

Size: Adult females' length range from 1.54 to 1.57 mm, height 0.85 to 0.86 mm. Adult males' length range from 1.25 to 1.27 mm, height 0.85 to 0.86 mm.

Number of Species in Genus: Ten, all from anchialine caves.

Genus Range:

  • Bahamas:
    • Exuma Cays: S. capax Kornicker, 1990 and S. styx Kornicker, 1990 as reported by Kornicker & Iliffe, 1998, 2000
    • Grand Bahama Island: S. sagax Kornicker, 1990; S. parkeri Kornicker & Iliffe, 2002
    • Long Island: S. capax Kornicker, 1990
    • South Andros Island: S. styx Kornicker, 1990
    • San Salvador: S. barri Kornicker & Barr, 1997
  • Bermuda: S. bermudensis Angel & Iliffe, 1987
  • Cuba:
    • S. cubensis Kornicker & Yager, 1996
    • S. saturno Kornicker & Yager, 2002
  • Jamaica: S. jamaicensis Kornicker & Iliffe, 1992
  • Yucatan, Mexico: S. mayan Kornicker & Iliffe, 1998
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Spelaeoecia: genus range

Species Range: Known from Jane's, Christie's, Crystal, Fern Sink, Green Bay, Roadside, Tucker's Town, Walsingham Sink and Wonderland Caves, Bermuda (Kornicker & Iliffe, 1989).

Closest Related Species: S. bermudensis closely resembles S. mayan from the Yucatan Peninsula.

Habitat: Anchialine limestone caves

Ecology: Spelaeoecia bermudensis inhabits sections of isolated caves of Bermuda that have no current. Gut content consisted of a large ovoid pellet that was dark brown ventrally and had a pearly sheen in reflected light dorsally and was composed of many broken, hollow, transparent, colorless tubes of unknown origin.

Life History: Angel & Iliffe (1987) reported on 56 specimens including 22 adults (2 adults represented by carapaces only), but no female specimens. Kornicker & Iliffe (1989) on 10 additional specimens including two A-1 males and one A-3 instar. The first adult male was reported on in Kornicker (1989) that also included one juvenile and nine adult female specimens collected with a baited trap. Unless the ratio of adult females to males in the species is unusually high, it seems likely that adult females are more widespread than adult males. Perhaps the adult male reported on by Kornicker (1989) was attracted some distance by the bait in the trap and trapping rather than netting may be a more efficient way of collecting males.

Evolutionary Origins: The evolutionary origins of stygobitic ostracodes remain undetermined. They may have originated from the deep sea (Iliffe 1990:95; 1991:227-228) or from shallow water crevices (Danielopol, 1990:141; Danielopol et al., 1996:82). These ostracodes may have been in shallow anchialine pools and then migrated to the more stable cave environment (Iliffe in Kornicker & Iliffe, 1998:2). The genera Deeveya and Spelaeoecia comprise the subfamily Deeveyinae. The distribution of this subfamily is restricted to the Caribbean, West Indies, Bermuda, and Yucatan Peninsula.

Conservation Status: Restricted to several anchialine caves of Bermuda. This species is listed as critically endangered (IUCN, 1996).


  • Angel, M.V. and T.M. Iliffe. 1987. Spelaeoecia bermudensis new genus, new species, a halocyprid ostracod form marine caves in Bermuda. Journal of Crustacean Biology, 7:541-553, 7 figures, 3 tables.
  • IUCN, 1996. The 1996 IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals. Gland, IUCN, 368 pages.
  • Kornicker, L.S. 1989. The adult male of the troglobitic ostracode Spelaeoecia bermudensis Angel and Iliffe, 1987, from an anchialine cave in Bermuda (Crustacea: Ostracoda: Halocypridoidea). Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, 102(2):313-323, 5 figures.
  • Kornicker, L.S. and D.J. Barr. 1997. Anchialine Ostracoda (Halocypridina) from San Salvador, Bahamas. Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology, 588:1-20, 11 figures, 2 tables.
  • Kornicker, L.S. and T.M. Iliffe. 1989. Ostracoda (Myodocopina, Cladocopina, Halocypridina) mainly from anchialine caves in Bermuda. Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology, 475:1-88, 49 figures, 22 tables.
  • Kornicker, L.S. and T.M. Iliffe. 1992. Ostracoda (Halocypridina, Cladocopina) from anchialine caves in Jamaica, West Indies. Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology, 530:1-22, 11 figures, 9 tables.
  • Kornicker, L.S. and T.M. Iliffe. 1998. Myodocopid Ostracoda (Halocypridina, Cladocopina) from anchialine caves in the Bahamas, Canary Islands, and Mexico. Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology, 599:1-93, 62 figures, 2 maps, 9 tables.
  • Kornicker, L.S. and T.M. Iliffe. 2000. Myodocopid Ostracoda from Exuma Sound, Bahamas, and from marine caves and blue holes in the Bahamas, Bermuda and Mexico. Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology, 606:1-98, 56 figures, 2 maps, 9 tables.
  • Kornicker, L.S. and J. Yager. 1996. The troglobitic halocyprid Ostracoda of anchialine caves in Cuba. Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology, 580:1-16, 9 figures, 1 table.
  • Kornicker, L.S. and J. Yager. 2002. Description of Spelaeoecia saturno, a new species from an anchialine cave in Cuba, (Crustacea: Ostracoda: Myodocopa: Halocyprididae). Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, 115(1):153-170, 11 figures, 2 tables.
  • Kornicker, L.S., J. Yager, and D. Williams. 1990. Ostracoda (Halocyprididae) from anchialine caves in the Bahamas. Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology, 495:1-51, 30 figures, 4 tables.

Contributor: Louis S. Kornicker, National Museum of Natural History, Washington, DC

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