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As a group of fish parasites, Copepoda have been undeservedly neglected by researchers. Their economic importance, especially in view of continuing expansion of fish culture throughout the world, has often been underestimated. Displaying a wide range of adaptive modifications to the parasitic mode of life, Copepoda are, or should be, of great interest to all students of parasitism, evolution and aquatic biology in general, no less than to practical fish culturists.
This book contains keys to, and descriptions of, all species of copepods known at the time of writing to parasitize fishes in British waters. It might, therefore, be considered as a replacement for the Ray Society’s monograph British Parasitic Copepoda (Scott, T. and A. Scott, 1913). All descriptions and about 85% of more than 2,000 illustrations are new. Of the remaining figures, most were drawn and previously published by the author.
Although the book emphasises a segment of the British fauna, the author saw it also as an introducion to parasitic Copepoda in general. The book discusses them as part of a large order, grouping both free-living and parasitic species. A new classification scheme for the entire order is proposed, based on a hypothetical phylogenetic tree. A similar scheme is also proposed for Lernaeopodidae, one of the largest families of parasitic Copepoda. The evolutionary aspect is also evident in the review of the impact exerted by parasitism on copepod morphology. Some tentative suggestions are made about the general principles underlying apparently chaotic, and often bewildering, morphological changes consequent upon adaptation to the parasitic mode of life. Several new families are proposed on the basis of a close scrutiny of these changes. A brief synopsis is given of each family occurring in British waters, so that the relationship of the British species to the world fauna can be easily seen.