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12.03.2012 20:20 Age: 5 yrs
Category: Monoculus Blog

Meet the Student Winners from the 11th ICOC

These outstanding young investigators distinguished themselves in the poster and oral presentation categories at the 2011 ICOC.

These outstanding young investigators distinguished themselves in the poster and oral presentation categories at the 2011 ICOC.Student Awardees at 11th ICOC


Masayoshi Sano

Ph.D. student at Atmosphere and Ocean Research Institute,

The University of Tokyo

It was my great honor to receive a Student Presentation Award at the 11th International Conference on Copepoda held in Merida. I’m studying feeding habits of mesopelagic copepods focusing on their food-resource partitioning as a mechanism for the generation and maintenance of the high biodiversity in mesopelagic zone. I started the study as my undergraduate research program, where I analyzed the feeding habits of two mesopelagic species with conventional methods, i.e. a microscopic analysis of gut contents and a morphological analysis of mouthparts. The results suggested that the copepods utilize diverse food resources more-or-less unselectively, as suggested by previous workers. However, these observations made me suspect that there may be differences in food habits and feeding strategies among mesopelagic copepods that are hard to detect. To answer this question, in my master’s study, I examined the copepods’ feeding habits in more quantitative manner by an integrative application of several qualitative and quantitative methods, which proved to be a powerful approach. I obtained a master’s degree in 2010 on the basis of this study, a part of which was presented at the conference as summarized below.

     I analyzed feeding habits of 8 species of mesopelagic detritivorous or omnivorous copepods with a carbon and nitrogen stable isotope ratio analysis, qualitative gut contents analyses with a light microscope, a scanning electron microscope and a fluorescence microscope, and a semi-quantitative elemental analysis of small particles of gut contents and sinking particles with electron probe micro analyzer (EPMA). The stable isotope ratio analysis indicated that many copepods mainly consumed those particles suspended in the epipelagic zone rather than those sinking in the epipelagic and mesopelagic zones, suggesting differences in food niche among the copepods. The microscopy also showed different compositions of gut contents among the copepods, most of which ingested sinking particles containing incompletely degraded phytoplankton and cyanobacteria. Meanwhile, the EPMA analysis suggested selective ingestion of sinking particles by the copepods. These observations give me an indication that the copepods selectively ingest sinking particles consisted mainly of fresh suspended particles, such as incompletely degraded phytoplankton and these copepod species utilize food resources differently.

     As an extension of the research, in the Ph.D. course I’m examining seasonal changes of feeding habits of mesopelagic copepods and comparing feeding habits of co-occurring related species, particularly those of the Scolecitrichidae.

     I was very delighted to attend the conference and see many copepodologists of the world. I fully enjoyed various interesting presentations which gave me the incentive to study copepods more. I hope I can attend the next ICOC with a new interesting topic. I sincerely thank everyone who listened to my presentation and my supervisor, Shuhei Nishida, for giving me the opportunities for the study and the presentation at this conference.


Uroš Žibrat, Ph.D. Student

Department of freshwater and terrestrial ecosystems research

National Institute of Biology, Slovenia


I studied biology at the Department of biology, Biotechnical faculty, University of Ljubljana. I have always been interested in freshwater and mountain ecology and therefore chose to complete my undergraduate studies with a thesis on sex-ratio of Arctodiaptomus alpinus in Alpine lakes. My work on Arctodiaptomus led to an invitation by Austrian colleagues to participate in their research on a cestode epidemic in Arctic charr.    The research was done as cooperation between the Paris-Lodron University Salzburg and the Institute of Freshwater Ecology, Fisheries Biology and Limnology in Scharfling, Austria. In 2008 I was accepted to the Young researcher program in Slovenia and enrolled in my PhD studies at the University of Nova Gorica. Currently I am employed at the National Institute of Biology where I am developing a new biotic index based on hyporheic fauna for water quality determination in lotic ecosystems. The topic is of great national interest and in 2009 I was awarded for my contribution to sustainable development of society, bestowed by the Slovene human resources development and scholarship fund.

     In my talk at the 11th ICOC I presented the first part of my PhD thesis. So far there have been only a few studies of hyporheic communities in Slovenia, all of them limited to just one river or lake. I performed the first general survey of hyporheic communities of Slovene rivers. We gathered 273 samples from 26 rivers. Our results suggest that hyporheic copepod assemblages do not conform to the recently developed river typology, which is used for water quality assessment, in accordance with the Water Framework Directive. Furthermore, hyporheic copepod assemblages change gradually from spring to outflow and changes are characterized by differences in abundances of the nine most common species. Interestingly, we also found one species, Moraria radovnae, which seems to be endemic in the Alps. I plan to use these data with data mining and neural network algorithms to develop water quality assessment models. The long-term goal of my research would be to include these models in national water quality assessment schemes.


Nancy F. Mercado-Salas, Ph.D. Student

El Colegio de la Frontera Sur-Unidad Chetumal, Mexico


My main research interests are Systematics, Evolution, and Biogeography of free-living freshwater Cyclopoida. I am currently working on my thesis: “Taxonomical revision of the genus Eucyclops in Mexico and evaluation of new morphological characters for their identification”. I previously received my Master of Science thesis on “Diversity and Distribution of Cyclopoida (Copepoda) from Central-North arid areas of Mexico” (ECOSUR-CONABIO 2009). I am currently collaborating on various projects: “Community structure and phylogeography of Zooplankton in Chihuahuan Desert Springs” (NSF, UTEP & Ripon College-2006), “Taxonomy and Distribution of Cladocerans in Aguascalientes State” (University of Aguascalientes (UAA), Mexico-2005); and “Copepods from Aguascalientes State” (UAA, 2006).

     In addition to receiving the Student Presentation Award in the 11th International Conference on Copepoda held in Merida, Mexico with the work “Distributional patterns of the American species of the freshwater genus Eucyclops (Copepoda: Cyclopoida): a track analysis”, I have also received the Best Student Award given by the Crustacean Society during the VII Reunión Alejandro Villalobos with the work ““Diversity and Distribution of Cyclopoida (Copepoda) from Central-North arid areas of Mexico”.  I have been a member of WAC since 2009 and of The Crustacean Society since 2010. I also taught as an assistant professor of the postgraduate course of Biogeography at ECOSUR (2010, 2011).  I have attended these workshops: “Training Workshop on Morphology and Systematics of Copepods” (2011), “Aspects of Crustacean Ecology and Diversity” (2008), “International Workshop on Rotifer Taxonomy” (2006) and; “Taxonomy of freshwater copepods” (2005). I have completed five publications on the description of Copepoda species.


David R. Andrew, Ph.D. Student

University of Arizona, USA


I am honored to have received one of the Student Oral Presentation Awards at the 11th International Conference on Copepoda held recently in Mérida, Mexico.  I would like to thank all the members of the awards committee for evaluating the student oral presentations and posters.  I would also like to thank the members of the copepod community at large for their warm welcome at the conference and interest in my work.  I look forward to future collaborations initiated with other conference participants as a result of the work I discussed in Mexico.

     I presented portions of my doctoral work describing the nervous system of the harpacticoid copepod Tigriopus californicus.  Comparative neuroanatomical studies on copepods are scarce despite the well-documented importance of copepods.  This study describes and characterizes anatomical aspects of the brain and central nervous system in Tigriopus and compared described brain regions with those of other non-copepod crustacean and insect taxa.  The results I presented indicate that the brain of Tigriopus is far more complex than initially anticipated and showed homologous brain structures common to copepods and other Pancrustacea.  I used light and electron microscopy to visualize whole brain regions and neuropil ultrastructural elements.  I presented 3-dimensional reconstructions of the entire brain with internal structures related to the olfactory system and higher brain centers.  I also showed the existence of T-bars, a stereotypical arrangement of synaptic proteins found in other arthropod taxa, which suggests that this anatomical organization is more evolutionarily ancient than previously thought.

     While at the conference I was able to meet many interested researchers with advice on which species to focus on for my future work.  I appreciate this interest in my work and hope that I will be able to again discuss my research for this engaging community of scientist at the next International Conference on Copepoda.  With fond memories and great appreciation, David.


Juana Mireya Mendoza Vera

Campus de Luminyase 901, 13288 Marseille, Cedex 9 France


I began my scholarship in Mexico until the Master degree. I graduated from Metropolitan Autonomous University Xochimilco. My graduated thesis was about the freshwater rotifer Brachionus angularis and my master thesis aimed to bioremediation, i.e. the capacity of organisms to regenerating a contaminated ecosystem. Then I did a Master and a PhD in Biology and Marine Ecology at the Centre d’Oceanologie de Marseille(COM), in the Aix-Marseilles II University, (France) completed by training stays at IRD in Dakar, Senegal.

     My PhD work was focused on the study of the relationships between potentially toxic cyanobacteria (Cylindrospermopsis raciborskii, Anabaena solitaria, Anabaena flos-aquae and Microcystis aeruginosa) and zooplankton communities in the lower delta of the Senegal river. For this, I collaborated with Marc Pagano (IRD) and Corinne Cuoc (Aix-Marseille I University). This research was based on both in situ study and experimental approaches on the roles of grazing, predation and toxicity. The in situ survey explored the space-time distribution and dynamics of the phyto- and zooplankton communities. Grazing and toxicity experiments clearly indicated negative effects of the cyanobacteria on the survival and growth of cladocerans, rotifers and copepods. Variable responses were observed according to the zooplankton species.  Muscular and intestinal degradation as well as modification of the acetylcholinesterase activity were highlighted for copepods incubated with C. raciborskii or A. flos aquae. However; several factors suggest that these effects are probably not related to classical cyanotoxins, but to secondary metabolites excreted. I would like to continue working on this topic for my postdoc to explore several complex aspects in more detail. Specifically, I would like to focus on the chemosensory mechanisms and the adaptative responses of zooplankton organisms faced with environmental changes: defence mechanisms, recovering capacity after cell damage (regeneration and repair). I would also like to identify and explore the mechanisms of secondary metabolites biosynthesis, etc. Currently, I am looking for a laboratory in which I could gain work experience in this field of investigation and broaden my horizon.


Valdylene Tavares Pessoa Fidelis, Ph.D. Student

Universidade Federal de Pernambuco , Brazil



It was a great honor to receive the Student Poster Presentation Award in a very important and so well organized event as the 11th International Conference on Copepoda. For our entire research team, the recognition of this work through this award was very important.

     I am a student of the doctorate course in Biological Oceanography and I work on the ecology of the zooplankton of estuarine and coastal areas with emphasis on studies related to the productivity of the communities of Copepoda in coastal environments. My doctorate thesis has as one of the main objectives to estimate the production of Copepoda in coastal reefs located at the Northeast of Brazil.

     In the 11th International Conference on Copepoda, I presented a work entitled 'Copepod production in a tropical impacted bay from Brazilian northwest'. The main objectives of this research were to estimate the values of biomass and the rates of secondary production of the community of pelagic Copepoda from a tropical, urbanized and highly impacted environment due to pollution. The values of production observed in this study were considered relatively low if compared with other regions that present similar characteristics to the studied environment, presenting values near to those found in oligotrophic oceanic environments.

     I am sincerely thankful to all members of the organizer committee and I finish recognizing that this serves as a great stimulus for the development of my academic career.


Gilmar Perbiche Neves

Departament of Zoology, IB,

University of State of São Paulo – UNESP, Brazil

I currently live in the state of São Paulo (Brazil), where I am finishing a PhD in zoology. I started working with the ecology of planktonic copepods of reservoirs and rivers in 2003, and only after 2008 turned to the taxonomy, especially freshwater Calanoida and Cyclopoida. Since then, I have been studying copepods of various types of habitats, including freshwater (lakes, reservoirs, rivers, swamps, pools of water from mountain, hydro rock environments) and estuarine environments.

     The work awarded in the 11th ICOC in Mérida is a small part of a large project, unprecedented, which sampled the second largest river basin in South America, the tenth largest in the world.   In these collections, so far, were found five new species of Calanoida, and two of them have been described and presented at the 11th ICOC in Mérida. The other species of Calanoida will be described in brief, and also new species of  Cyclopoida.

     Another abstract presented at the event referred to the spatial distribution of Cyclopoida in the basin, both presented on posters.   Due to the large amount of material collected, the analysis is slow, also by the particular details of each species.   Besides a few publications in 2012 and 2013 two identification guidebooks of Calanoida and Cyclopoida of the River Plate Basin will be released, with identification keys, diagnoses, illustrations, scanning electron microscopy (electron and confocal laser).



Alexandra Petrunina (maiden name Savchenko)

PhD student, Moscow State University

I graduated from Moscow State University (Biological Department, Invertebrate Zoology chair) in 2008.  My Master's thesis was on copepods associated with sea stars in Southern Vietnam. Some of our results were presented as a poster at 10th ICOC in Pattaya, Thailand.

     Currently I am doing my Ph.D. on parasitic crustaceans of the class Tantulocarida. When  my supervisor Prof. Gregory Kolbasov offered me this project for the thesis I immediately fell in love with these minute enigmatic creatures. Tantulocarida are one of the smallest crustaceans, they  parasitize Amphipods, Isopods, Cumaceans, Tanaidaceans, Ostracods, and Copepods, which are known to be their favorite hosts. These miniature ectoparasites do not have typical crustacean molts, their life cycle is really complicated with both parthenogenetic and sexual phases. Tantulocarida also have unique morphological adaptations to their ectoparasitic mode of life.

     The tantulus larva does not have any cephalic appendages, but in its anterior part it has an oral disk. The larva can attach itself to the host surface with a special substance, called cement, which is released under this disk. The tantulus uses an unpaired stylet to puncture host cuticle, and through a tiny hole left from this puncture, a rootlet system is produced into the host tissues. Both the complexity of the life cycle, the minute size of most of the stages and difficulty in sampling live material makes this group unpopular among researchers.

     We are lucky enough to have two species of Tantulocarida (out of 36 known to science) living in the vicinities of MSU White Sea Biological Station ( We use a simple hyperbenthic dredge to collect the mud from the sea bottom, which is possible because the host crustaceans ( harpacticoid copedod Bradya typica and a tanaid Typhlotanais sp.) live in a rather shallow silty bay. Using a bubbling method we get host specimens attached to the water surface, so that it is easier to collect them. Depending on the season we could get as many as one third of the host specimens infested with parasites. That is how we manage to get enough material for the first Transmission Electron Microscopy of Tantulocarida,  and also for molecular analysis.  So in my thesis I plan to cover internal anatomy, find out probable phylogenetic position of Tantulocarida on the tree of Arthropoda and to revise their systematics.  We also described two species of Tantulocarida: one (Serratotantulus chertoprudae) from the abyssal depth of the Indian ocean, another one from the White Sea (Microdajus tchesunovi).

     In 2008 at the WSBS first adult males of the two species of Tantulocarida (Arcticotantulus pertzovi and M. tchesunovi) were reared. Not only have we got first live photographs and videos of fully developed free swimming tantulocarid males, but this allowed us to study their external morphology using SEM as well as their internal anatomy using TEM.

     In my talk at the 11th ICOC in Mérida I tried to give an account of what has been achieved by now.

The phylogenetic position of Tantulocarida on the Arthropod tree is still doubtful, because of their highly modified morphology they yield only few characters for comparison with other crustaceans. However, until now no molecular analysis has been conducted. 18S rDNA sequences of two species of Tantulocarida (A. pertzovi and M. tchesunovi) were obtained for the first time. They appeared to be close relatives of Cirripedia, even though it was generally believed that Tantulocarida is a sister group of Thecostraca. Possible close relations of Tantulocarida and Cirripedia were discussed. In my presentation I also described some of the main structures inside the cephalon of the tantulus larva and  gave a preliminary account of the internal anatomy of the adult male.

     Finally, I would like to thank the organizers of the 11th ICOC for the award and for the excellent job they did in Chetumal and Merida.