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Anais da Academia Brasileira de Ciências

Print version ISSN 0001-3765On-line version ISSN 1678-2690

An. Acad. Bras. Ciênc. vol.89 no.2 Rio de Janeiro Apr./June 2017 

Biological Sciences

Occurrence of Dendrocephalus brasiliensis Pesta, 1921 (Crustacea, Anostraca) in the Caras river, southern Ceara, Brazil






1Laboratory of Carcinology (LACRUSE), Regional University of Cariri, Department of Science Chemistry and Biology, Rua Cel. Antônio Luiz Pimenta, 1161, 63105-000 Crato, CE, Brazil


Occurrence of Dendrocephalus brasiliensis Pesta, 1921 (Crustacea, Anostraca) in the Caras river, southern Ceara, Brazil. The specimens were collected in March and April 2014. The new occurrence extends the distribution and update area of occupancy of the species, which is characterized by a specific habitat: temporary lakes.

Key words: branchiopoda; fairy shrimp; aquiculture; fresh water


The fairy shrimp, Dendrocephalus brasiliensisPesta, 1921 (Crustacea, Anostraca), is a freshwater, filterer Branchiopoda that is common in different states of Brazil. The geographical distribution of the species extends from Argentina to the state of Piauí, northeastern Brazil (Cohen 1995). The first record of the occurrence of Dendrocephalus in Brazil was made by Pesta (1921) in the states of Bahia and Piauí. Adolpho Lutz, otherwise, registered the occurrence in Macaiba, Rio Grande do Norte-RN, in 1929, from the species Dendrocephalus ornatus, by its bright scarlet color. Linder (1941), in turn, verified that the species described by Lutz (1929) was actually Dendrocephalus brasiliensis that Pesta wrote about in 1921.

Among crustaceans, fairy shrimp stand out due to their occurrence in adverse environments, tolerating the most diverse and extreme environmental conditions. One of the most well-known representatives of this group is the genus Artemia Leach, 1819, which is restricted to coastal saltwater habits and saltwater inland lakes (Vanhaecke et al. 1987). Freshwater fairy shrimps are found in semi-arid regions characterized by striking periods of drought, followed by rainy seasons that form temporary lakes and pools, which constitute the habitat of these crustaceans (Belk and Cole 1975).

According to Lopes et al. (1998) and Lopes (2007), Dendrocephalus brasiliensis is as an alternative food source for larvae and fingerlings of different species of carnivorous fish, as it has similar or higher protein levels than other organisms used in large-scale aquiculture activities around the world. Moreover, this species achieves a greater production of biomass in comparison to Artemia spp. (Lopes et al. 1998).

Here we report a new occurrence of D. brasiliensis from a lake in the southern portion of the state of Ceará (northeastern Brazil), which extends its distribution to the Carás River basin. This paper broadens the biogeographical information on the area of occupancy D. brasiliensis, extending its distribution since there are no continuous records of its occurrence in Brazilian states.


Fifteen males and nine females of Dendrocephalus brasiliensis were collected from the Carás River basin in the municipality of Juazeiro do Norte in the southern portion of the state of Ceará, Brazil (7° 08' 44.64" S, 39° 16' 45.37" W) (Figure 1).

Figure 1 'Map of the municipality of Juazeiro do Norte, northeastern Brazil, Black spot: sampling site (7° 08' 44.64" S, 39° 16' 45.37" W). 

Some of the females had cysts, the characteristics of which are eight spherical, pentagonal concavities of the same size, with grooves with a smooth surface and dark coloration, as described by Lopes (2007).

The specimens were caught in a small, temporary, artificial lake near the Carás River in March and April 2014 and were deposited in the Semi-Arid Crustacean Laboratory (LACRUSE) of the Cariri Regional University under accession number LACRUSE #0198.

The identification and sexing of the specimens was performed based on external morphological characteristics: males (Figure 2a) - structure of the antennae and developed, branched frontal appendage; females (Figure 2b) - lobules on first paws, ovigerous sac and cyst morphology (Cohen 1995, Rabet and Thiéry 1996).

Dendrocephalus brasiliensis has the following morphological characteristics: absence of spines on the anterior margin of the basal portion of the frontal appendages; foot-shaped termination of the ramification; absence of a spine on the lower margin of the eye; and absence of a lobe with a spine on the first pair of endopodites (Pereira 1983, Belk and Pereira 1982, Rabet and Thiéry 1996).

Figure 2 Specimens of Dendrocephalus brasiliensis collected from Carás River basin, Juazeiro do Norte, Ceará, Brazil. (a) male; (b) female. ; Scale: 0.5 mm.  


This paper updates the information's about the occurrence of the D. brasiliensis, expanding its distribution area to the Carás River's basin in the southern of the Ceará, which is a semi-arid region in northeastern Brazil. The occurrence of the species in March and April, which corresponded to the months of higher volumes of rainfall in this region of the country, likely determines the reproductive period of the species, which has a lifecycle of approximately 70 to 80 days on average (Lopes 2007). The specimens were found in artificial lakes, characterized mainly by drying up during the drought period and filling during the rainy period, which is in agreement with the description of the main habitat of the species offered by Belk and Cole (1975).


This paper offers new information on the occurrence of D. brasiliensis that could give assistance to future studies addressing the species, as this is the most studied fairy shrimp and used in aquiculture as live food (cysts and nauplii) or frozen food (biomass) for fish and shrimp (Câmara 2000, Yflaar and Olivera 2003).


We thank the Cariri Regional University, where the analyses of the species were performed, to Mr. José Hélio Ribeiro Lima Junior, owner of the sampling site.


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Received: July 28, 2016; Accepted: December 05, 2016

Correspondence to: Francisco Ronaldo Vieira Freita E-mail:

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