Association with vessel vectors

Actual evidence of being found in samples in a particular vector from any world region.

Anchor and anchor chains. Organisms found on anchors, anchor chain or within attached sediments, including anchor chain lockers.

Ballast water. Ballast water means water with its suspended matter taken on board a ship to control trim, list, draught, stability or stresses of the ship.

Biofouling. Biofouling means the accumulation of aquatic organisms such as micro-organisms, plants, and animals on surfaces and structures immersed in or exposed to the aquatic environment. Biofouling can include microfouling and macrofouling.

  • Macrofouling means large, distinct multicellular organisms visible to the human eye such as barnacles, tubeworms, or fronds of algae.
  • Microfouling means microscopic organisms including bacteria and diatoms and the slimy substances that they produce.
Biofouling comprised of only microfouling is commonly referred to as a slime layer.

Sea chest. The sea chests are cavities (an opening with protection grid) at the bottom side of the ships’ hull (an opening for pumping in and out water for, e.g., ballasting, firefighting) where aquatic organisms may settle and be transported.

Tank sediments. Matter settled out of ballast water within a ship.

Bioaccumulation association

Natural toxins. An organism that accumulates toxins naturally produced by other organisms, such as phytotoxins, in its tissues.

Anthropogenic chemical compounds. An organism that accumulates human-produced chemicals, such as pharmaceuticals, heavy metals, pesticides, dioxins, in its tissues.

Characteristic feeding method

Chemoautotroph. An organism that obtains metabolic energy by oxidation of inorganic substrates such as sulphur, nitrogen or iron.

Deposit feeder – Subsurface. Synonym: detritivore. An organism feeding on fragmented particulate organic matter in the substratum.

Deposit feeder – Surface. Synonym: detritivore. An organism feeding on fragmented particulate organic matter from the surface of the substratum.

Grazer. An organism feeding on plants (higher aquatic plants, benthic algae and phytoplankton) and/or sessile animals organisms.

Herbivore. An organism feeding on plants (higher aquatic plants, benthic algae and phytoplankton).

Mixotroph. An organism both autotrophic and heterotrophic.

Omnivore. An organism feeding on mixed diet of plant and animal material.

Parasite. Feeding on the tissues, blood or other substances of a host.

Photoautotroph. An organism that obtains metabolic energy from light by photosynthesis (e.g. seaweeds, phytoplankton).

Planktotroph. An organism feeding on plankton.

Predator. An organism that feeds by preying on other organisms, killing them for food.

Scavenger. An organism feeding on dead and decaying organic material.

Suspension feeder – Active. An organism feeding on particulate organic matter, including plankton, suspended in the water column, collecting it actively by sweeping or pumping (creating feeding currents).

Suspension feeder – Passive. An organism feeding on particulate organic matter, including plankton, suspended in the water column, utilizing the natural flow to bring particles in contact with feeding structures.

Symbiont contribution. Where some dietary component(s) are provided by symbiotic organisms (e.g. Anemonia with zooxanthellae).

Developmental trait

Brooding. The incubation of eggs either inside or outside the body. Eggs may be brooded to a variety of developmental stages. Males or females may be responsible for brooding.

Direct development. A life cycle lacking a larval stage.

Spawning. The release of gametes into the water.

Lecithotrophy. Development at the expense of internal resources (i.e. yolk) provided by the female.

Parental care. Any form of parental behaviour that is likely to increase the fitness of offspring.

Planktotrophy. Feeding on plankton.

Resting stages. The quiescent stage in the life cycle (dormancy, diapause).

Viviparous. Producing live offspring from within parental body.

Habitat modifying ability potential

Autogenic ecosystem engineers. Organisms which change the environment via their own physical structures (i.e. their living and dead tissues) such as corals, oysters, kelps, sea grasses, etc.

Allogenic ecosystem engineers. Organisms which modify the environment by causing physical state changes in biotic and abiotic materials that, directly or indirectly, modulate the availability of resources to other species (e.g. excavating deep burrows which other organisms co-occupy, damming the water flow, etc).

Keystone species. A keystone species is crucial in maintaining the organization and diversity of its ecological community, by determining the types and numbers of other species.

Life form

Neuston. Organisms that live on (epineuston) or under (hyponeuston) the surface film of water bodies.

Zoobenthos. Animals living on or in the seabed.

Phytobenthos. Algae and higher plants living on or in the seabed.

Zooplankton. Animals living in the water column, unable to maintain their position independent of water movements.

Phytoplankton. Microscopic plankton algae and cyanobacteria.

Benthopelagos. Synonyms: hyperbenthic, benthopelagic, nektobenthic, demersal. An organism living at, in or near the bottom of the sea, but having the ability to swim.

Nekton. Actively swimming aquatic organisms able to move independently of water currents.

Parasite. An organism intimately associated with and metabolically dependent on another living organism (host) for completion of its life cycle.

Symbiont (nonparasitic). An organism living mutually with another species without harming it. Association of two species (symbionts) may be mutually beneficial.


Boring. An organism capable of penetrating a solid substrate by mechanical scraping or chemical dissolution.

Burrowing. An organism capable of digging in sediment.

Crawling. An organism moving slowly along on the substrate.

Drifting. An organism whose movement is dependent on wind or water currents.

Permanent attachment. Non-motile; permanently attached at the base. Also includes permanent attachment to a host.

Swimming. An organism capable of moving through the water by means of fins, limbs or appendages.

Temporary attachment. Temporary / sporadic attachment. Attached to a substratum but capable of movement across (or through) it (e.g. Actinia). Also includes temporary attachment to a host.

Native origin

The region the species originates from.


References should follow the standard of Biological invasions:

Journal article
Gamelin FX, Baquet G, Berthoin S, Thevenet D, Nourry C, Nottin S, Bosquet L (2009) Effect of high intensity intermittent training on heart rate variability in prepubescent children. Eur J Appl Physiol 105:731-738. doi: 10.1007/s00421-008-0955-8
Ideally, the names of all authors should be provided, but the usage of “et al” in long author lists will also be accepted:
Smith J, Jones M Jr, Houghton L et al (1999) Future of health insurance. N Engl J Med 965:325–329

Article by DOI

Slifka MK, Whitton JL (2000) Clinical implications of dysregulated cytokine production. J Mol Med. doi:10.1007/s001090000086

South J, Blass B (2001) The future of modern genomics. Blackwell, London

Book chapter
Brown B, Aaron M (2001) The politics of nature. In: Smith J (ed) The rise of modern genomics, 3rd edn. Wiley, New York, pp 230-257

Online document
Cartwright J (2007) Big stars have weather too. IOP Publishing PhysicsWeb. Accessed 26 June 2007

Trent JW (1975) Experimental acute renal failure. Dissertation, University of California

Reproductive frequency

Iteroparous. Organisms breeding more than once in their lifetime.

Semelparous. Organisms breeding once in their lifetime.

Reproductive type

Asexual. Budding, Fission, Fragmentaion, including parthenogenesis. A form of asexual multiplication in which:
a) a new individual begins life as an outgrowth from the body of the parent. It may then separate to lead an independent existence or remain connected or otherwise associated to form a colonial organism;
b) the ovum develops into a new individual without fertilization;
c) division of the body into two or more parts each or all of which can grow into new individuals is involved.

Self-fertilization. Selfing or autogamy. The union of a male and female gamete produced by the same individual.

Sexual. Permanent hermaphrodite, Protandrous hermaphrodite, Protogynous hermaphrodite, Gonochoristic.
Capable of producing both ova and spermatozoa either at the same time. A condition of hermaphroditism in plants and animals where male gametes mature and are shed before female gametes mature or vice versa.
Having separate sexes.


The exact salinity range if known (psu), else salinity zone(s) according to the Venice system:
1. Limnetic [<0.5psu]
2. β-Oligohaline [0.5-3psu]
3. α-Oligohaline [3-5psu]
4. β-Mesohaline [5-10psu]
5. α-Mesohaline [10-18psu]
6. Polymixohaline [18-30psu]
7. Euhaline [30-40psu]
8. Hypersaline [>40psu]


Colonial. Descriptive of organisms produced asexually which remain associated with each other; in many animals, retaining tissue contact with other polyps or zooids as a result of incomplete budding.

Gregarious. Organisms living in groups or communities, growing in clusters.

Solitary. Living alone, not gregarious.

Sub-species level

A geographical subset of a species showing discrete differences in morphology, coloration or other features when compared with other members of the species. Subspecies may also differ in their habitat or behavior, but they can interbreed. Often the lowest taxonomic level within a classification system.


Valid synonyms of a species (not all of them).


Poisonous. An organism capable of producing poison that gains entry to another organism body via the gastrointestinal tract, the respiratory tract, or via absorption through intact body layers.

Venomous. An organism capable of producing poison, usually injected through another organism intact skin by bite or sting.

Not relevant. Neither poisonous nor venomous.

Public domain: Species account

Species Acartia (Acanthacartia) tonsa [WoRMS]
Authority Dana, 1849
Family Acartiidae  
Order Calanoida  
Class Hexanauplia  
Phylum Arthropoda  
Synonym (?) Acartia gracilis (Herrick, 1887)
Acartia tonsa cryophylla (Björnberg, 1963)

References (not structured):
Acartia tonsa. Nobanis. European Network on Invasive Alien Species. Available at crustaceans/AcartiaTonsa.htm. Accessed on 17 November 2011
Sub-species level (?) Not entered
Native origin (?) Ocean: Atlantic
Ocean: Indian
Ocean: Pacific

References (not structured):
Conover RJ (1956) Notes on the seasonal distribution of zooplankton in Southampton Water with special reference to the genus Acartia. Journal of Natural History Series 12, Volume 10, Issue 109.

Cosmopolitan in estuaries and lagoons throughout the worls, with a preference for tropical, sub-tropical and warm temperate regions.
Life form / Life stage (?)
 AdultJuvenileLarvaeEggsResting stage
Symbiont (non parasitic)

References (not structured):
Cervetto G, Pagano M, Gaudy R (1995) Feeding behavior and migrations in a natural population of the copepod Acartia tonsa. Hydrobiologia 300(301): 237-248
Cubbage A, Lawrence D, Tomasky G, Valiela I (1999) Relationship of reproductive output in Acartia tonsa, chlorophyll concentration, and land-derived nitrogen loads in estuaries of Waquoit Bay, Massachusetts. Biological Bulletin 197: 294-295
Leandro SM, Tiselius P,Queiroga H (2006) Growth and development of nauplii and copepodites of the estuarine copepod Acartia tonsa from southern Europe (Ria de Aveiro, Portugal) under saturating food conditions. Marine Biology 150: 121-129
Tiselius P, Andersen Borg CM, Hansen BW, Hansen PJ, Nielsen TG, Vismann B, (2008) High reproduction, but low biomass: mortality estimates of the copepod Acartia tonsa in a hyper-eutrophic estuary. Aquatic Biology 2: 93-103
Sociability / Life stage (?)
 AdultJuvenileLarvaeEggsResting stage
Reproductive frequency (?) Iteroparous
Reproductive type (?) Sexual

Sazhina LI (1987) Reproduction, growth, production of marine copepods. Kiev. Pp. 156.
Sazhina LI (1971) Fecundity of mass pelagic Copepoda of the Black Sea. Zool. J. 4: 586-589
Rodríguez-Graña L, Calliari D, Tiselius P, Hansen BW, Sköld HN, (2010) Gender-specific ageing and non-Mendelian inheritance of oxidative damage in marine copepods. Marine Ecology Progress Series 401: 1-13
Sørensen TF, Drillet G, Engell-Sørensen K, Hansen BW, Ramløv H (2007)Production and biochemical composition of eggs from neritic calanoid copepods reared in large outdoor tanks (Limfjord, Denmark). Aquaculture 263: 84-96
Marcus NH, Wilcox JA (2007) A guide to the meso-scale production of the copepod Acartia tonsa. Florida Sea Grant. Available a t Accessed on 17 October 2011
Hammer RM (1978) Scanning electron microscope study of the spermatophore of Acartia tonsa (Copepoda: Calanoida). Transactions of the American Microscopical Society 97(3): 386-389
Leandro SM, Tiselius P, Queiroga H (2006) Growth and development of nauplii and copepodites of the estuarine copepod Acartia tonsa from southern Europe (Ria de Aveiro, Portugal) under saturating food conditions. Marine Biology 150: 121-129

Fertilization is internal. A male can fertilize several females. Acartia tonsa lays eggs into water. Eggs are heavier than water, therefore they descend to the bottom (Sachina, 1971). Egg production of individual females goes on for about 3-4 weeks (Rodriguez-Graña et al., 2010), and each female produces 20-30 eggs per day (Sørensen et al., 2007), 18-50 per brood every 5 days (Marcus & Wilcox, 2007), or 37-53 eggs per day (Rodriguez-Graña et al., 2010). Limiting factors: temperature, light factor, feeding, salinity, oxygen concentration (Sazhina, 1987)
Developmental trait (?) Brooding
Resting stages

Berggreen U, Hansen B, Kiørboe T (1988) Food size spectra, ingestion and growth of the copepod Acartia tonsa during development: implications for determination of copepod production. Marine Biology 99: 341-352

Acartia tonsa goes through 6 nauplius stages and 5 copepodite stages before they reach the sexually mature stage (Berggreen et al., 1988).
Characteristic feeding method / Life stage (?)
 AdultJuvenileLarvaeEggsResting stage
Suspension feeder – Active
Suspension feeder – Passive
Deposit feeder – Surface
Deposit feeder – Sub-surface
Symbiont contribution

References (not structured):
Kiørboe T, Saiz E, Viitasalo M (1996) Prey switching behaviour in the planktonic copepod Acartia tonsa. Marine Ecology Progress Series 143:65-75
Tackx M, Polk P (1982) Feeding of Acartia tonsa Dana (Copepoda, Calanoida): predation on nauplii of Canuella perplexa T. et A. Scott (Copepoda, Harpacticoida) in the sluice-dock at Ostend. Hydrobiologia 94: 131-133

Acartia tonsa feeds on nauplii of other copepods and on phytoplankton, including diatoms as well as flagellates (Tackx & Polk, 1982).
Mobility / Life stage (?)
 AdultJuvenileLarvaeEggsResting stage
Temporary attachment
Permanent attachment

References (not structured):
Brodsky KA (1950) Copepods Calanoida in the Far East seas of the USSR and Arctic basin. In: Inventory on the USSR Fauna. USSR AS ZIN. Moacow-Leningrad. Pp. 418-420. (in Russian)

Acartia tonsa performs 2 types of migration: horizontal and daily vertical migrations. During the nighttime it goes up to the surface layers while in the morning and daytime mature males and females sink to deeper layers of water. Young individuals undertake migrations only within surface layers (Brodsky, 1950).
Salinity tolerance range (?) Exact range: 2 - 33

Calliari, D., Andersen, C. M., Thor, P., Gorokhova, E., & Tiselius, P. (2006). Salinity modulates the energy balance and reproductive success of co-occurring copepods Acartia tonsa and A. clausi in different ways. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 312, 177-188.
Habitat modifying ability potential (?) Unknown
Toxicity / Life stage (?) Not relevant

Marcus NH, Wilcox JA (2007) A guide to the meso-scale production of the copepod Acartia tonsa. Florida Sea Grant. Available at Accessed on 16 November 2011 Sørensen, TF, Drillet G, Engell-Sørensen K, Hansen BW, Ramløv H (2007) Production and biochemical composition of eggs from neritic calanoid copepods reared in large outdoor tanks (Limfjord, Denmark). Aquaculture 263: 84-96

A positive impact is that A.tonsa has been used to produce live feed for aquaculture organisms (Marcus & Wilcox, 2007; Sørensen et al., 2007).
Bioaccumulation association (?) Anthropogenic chemical compounds

Wollenberger, L., Breitholtz, M., Kusk, K. O., & Bengtsson, B. E. (2003). Inhibition of larval development of the marine copepod Acartia tonsa by four synthetic musk substances. Science of the Total Environment, 305(1), 53-64.
Known human health impact? Not known

Not available
Known economic impact? Not known

Not available
Known measurable environmental impact? Not known
Included in the Target Species list? No

Assessed by the COMPLETE project experts (2021), excluded from the previous target species list
Association with vessel vectors (?) Ballast waters

Gollasch S, Macdonald E, Belson S, Botnen H, Christensen JT, Hamer JP, Houvenaghel G, Jelmert A, Lucas I, Masson D, McCollin T, Olenin S, Persson A, Wallentinus I, Wetsteyn LPMJ, Wittling T (2002) Life in Ballast Tanks In: Invasive aquatic species of Europe - distribution, impact and management. Leppäkoski, E., S. Gollasch & S. Olenin (eds). Kluwer Academic Publishers: 217-231
Gubanova A (2000) Occurrence of Acartia tonsa Dana in the Black Sea. Was it introduced from the Mediterranean? Mediterranean Marine Science 1(1): 105-109 pp

Ballast water seems to be the most likely means of transferring this species, or its eggs between coastal waters of different continents. The fact that A. tonsa can produce highly resistant diapause eggs as well as eggs that can be induced into quiescence has probably played an important role for its wide distribution.
Molecular information Available


Last update byAleksas Narščius, 2019-02-05