Global diversity of large branchiopods (Crustacea: Branchiopoda) in freshwater
With about 500 known species worldwide, the large brachiopods are a relatively small group of primitive crustaceans. With few exceptions they live in temporary aquatic systems that are most abundant in arid and semi arid areas. As many regions remain unexplored and as especially the number of species in clam shrimps and tadpole shrimps is underestimated due to difficult identification, the species list will increase with future surveys. The Branchiopoda are monophyletic, but inter-ordinal relationships, as well as many evolutionary relationships at lower taxonomic levels are still unclear. Ongoing molecular studies will more accurately depict species diversity and phylogenetic patterns. With the exception of some anostracan families, most families are not restricted to the northern or southern hemisphere or specific zoogeographical regions. Large branchiopods are used for the assessment of the quality and function of temporary wetlands. Due to the reduction in number and quality of temporary wetlands, several species became endangered and are red listed by the IUCN.