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Crustaceans: more than what you find at the shellfish buffet

Georg Ossian Sars was such a significant Norwegian marine scientist that three of the Institute of Marine Research's ships have been named after him. Sars is best known for his research on the migration and spawning pattern of fish, while...

Claudia Halsband says: “ Many people may only think of white wine and late summer meals with lobster and crayfish when they hear the word crustacean? In any case, I think that very few people are aware that there is an infinity of different crustaceans and that researchers have mapped as many as 67,000 different species. Crustaceans come in a great variety in terms of color, shape and size and the smallest crustacean found is only 0.1 mm long. Crustaceans are found on land, in fresh water and in the sea. The book describes the origin of crustaceans and how they succeeded in capturing the world’s oceans millions of years ago. My contribution is precisely about the marine crustaceans. “

Despite their differences, crustaceans have in common that they are invertebrates with a hard outer skeleton / shell in which they can grow by changing the shell as they grow. Perhaps this is the reason why we often refer to the good summer food shrimp and crab as shellfish in everyday speech? Crustaceans can show enormous variation in biology, appearance and adaptation to their environment. Two examples of good adaptability are that king crab and snow crab, which are alien species, seem to have established themselves too well in our northern waters. The marine crustaceans are found in everything from the pelagic level to the seabed, shallow and deep water, from tropical to polar and from free-living animals to crustaceans that are parasites.

“ I and my co-authors were quite ambitious when we started working on our chapter for the book. We wanted to review the development of marine crustaceans in different types of sea areas; The Atlantic, Pacific, Indian Oceans, and Arctic and Antarctic waters. As a first author, I must say that I sometimes regretted the level of ambition during the process, but it turned out well in the end. Because the crustaceans have such an important ecosystem function, I would actually recommend the book to anyone with an interest in the sea , says Halsband Maybe I should send a copy to Crown Prince Haakon , she says and laughs. He is particularly involved in the sea and the UN’s decades of marine research. 

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The book is part of the “Natural History of the Crustacea series” (Oxford University Press)

Kapittel 6: Biogeography of the Oceans Claudia Halsband, Shane T. Ahyong, Angelika Brandt, Ksenia Kosobokova, Peter Ward, Will P. Goodall-Copestake, and Enrique Macpherson