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Phylum Arthropoda
Subphylum Crustacea
Class Remipedia
Order Nectiopoda
Family Speleonectidae

Speleonectes tanumekes Koenemann, Iliffe & van der Ham, 2003

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Speleonectes tanumekes


Taxonomic Characterization: Long and slender species, largest specimens composed of 38-40 trunk segments - the largest number of trunk segments recorded for remipedes to date; pleural tergites weakly developed, with broadly rounded lateral margins in anterior part of trunk, becoming slightly pointed posteriorly; sternal bars sublinear, isomorphic; frontal filaments with short processes; dorsal flagella of antennules short; segment 4 of maxillule subrectangular, with small enditic lobe bearing two long, rasp-like spines and several slender setae; maxilla and maxilliped with distinct tagmosis (i.e., proximal segment is much longer and wider than distal segment), bearing few clusters of long, marginal setae; horseshoe-type claws of maxilla and maxilliped with 17-20 small denticles; anal somite slightly wider than long; caudal rami slightly longer than anal somite (Koenemann et al., 2003).

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Speleonectes tanumekes after Koenemann et al., 2003

Ecological Classification: Stygobitic

Size: Adult lengths extend to 27 mm.

Number of Species in Genus: Nine, all stygobitic

Genus Range:

  • Bahamas:
  • Canary Islands:
    • Lanzarote: S. ondinae (Garcia-Valdecasas, 1985)
      • Atlantida Tunnel - Jameos del Agua (Garcia-Valdecasas, 1985)
  • Cuba: S. gironensis Yager, 1994
  • Yucatan Peninsula: S. tulumensis Yager, 1987

Species Range: Know only from Basil Minns Blue Hole, Great Exuma Island, Exuma Cays, Bahamas.

Closest Related Species: S. tanumekes seems morphologically similar to S. epilimnius from San Salvador.

Habitat: Anchialine limestone caves

Ecology: S. tanumekes was collected from below a hydrogen sulfide layer in 33-43 m depths of an isolated, collapse, dome room located several hundred meters into the cave from the surface entrance.  In the depth range in which remipedes were collected, salinity was about 34 ppt, temperature 25oC, pH 7.4 and dissolved oxygen 3 mg/l.  Three new species of Speleonectes were collected from this cave including S. tanumekes, S. parabenjamini and S. minnsiHowever, the sympatry of these three species is not exceptional for remipedes as several other instances of 2-3 sympatric species have been observed. Sympatric remipedes are likely to be subjected to strong competition, which could lead either to niche differentiation or competitive exclusion.  S. tanumekes appears to be the most abundant remipede in this cave. Other stygobitic fauna from this cave includes copepods, ostracods, leptostracans, bochusaceans, amphipods, thermosbaenaceans, mysids, and polychaetes (Koenemann et al., 2003).

Life History: The fact that remipedes are hermaphrodites may point towards an adaptation to small population size (Koenemann et al., 2003).

Evolutionary Origins: Remipedes are an ancient group of crustaceans sharing several well defined features with Tesnusocaris goldichi from the Carboniferous.  The current distribution of remipedes consists of a prominent cluster in the northern Caribbean including the Bahamas.  Whether this cluster is an ancient center of origin and the disjunct taxa in the Canary Islands and Western Australia are isolated relicts remains to be seen (Koenemann et al., 2003).

Conservation Status: Known only from one anchialine cave on Great Exuma Island.


  • Koenemann, S., T.M. Iliffe and J. van der Ham, 2003. Three new sympatric species of Remipedia (Crustacea) from Great Exuma Island, Bahamas. Contributions to Zoology, 72(4):227-252.
  • Yager, J. 1981. Remipedia, a new class of Crustacea from a marine cave in the Bahamas. Journal of Crustacean Biology, 1(3):328-333, 2 figures.
  • Yager, J. 1994. Remipedia. Pp. 87-90 in: Encyclopaedia Biospeologica, Vol. 1, V. Decu and C. Juberthie, eds., Society of Biospeleology, Paris, 880 pp., 3 figures, 1 plate, 1 table.
  • Yager, J. and J.H. Carpenter. 1999. Speleonectes epilimnius new species (Remipedia, Speleonectidae) from surface water of an anchialine cave on San Salvador Island, Bahamas. Crustaceana, 72(8): 965-977, 6 figures, 1 table.


Contributor: Stefan Koenemann, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

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