"Temporary Ponds: a natural habitat to be protected!"

Crustaceans - Large Branchiopoda

> Maghrebestheria maroccana

Order: Spinicaudata - “clam-shrimp”

The order Spinicaudata appeared about 400 million years ago and is distributed almost everywhere except the Antarctic. This order is associated with bodies of fresh and temporary freshwater and often muddy, that is, temporary ponds.

They are organisms that have the body covered by two oval leaflets and a little flattened. The following image shows the general morphology of this order of crustaceans and in the case of Mediterranean Temporary Ponds are represented by two species: Cyzicus grubei and Maghrebestheria maroccana.

In the case of Maghrebestheria maroccana they are brownish in color and the maximum length of the valves is 12mm. They have the sexes separated.

Maghrebestheria maroccana found in a temporary pond near Vila Nova de Milfontes


The active stage of the life cycle unfolds during the flood phase of the biotope and can last 4-5 months. At the end of 2 and half months of the beginning of the hydroperiod, individuals are already adults.


They are essentially detritivores although they sometimes filter out some algae. In the more muddy waters you can ingest clay particles to take advantage of the organic matter absorbed by them.


Fecundation is internal. During copulation the male and female stay ventrally united, and their bodies remain perpendicular to one another. The females carries the cysts in a couple of laminar masses located at the 10th and 15th pair of thoracopods.

Freshwater temporary ponds, namely the Mediterranean Temporary Ponds (priority habitat 3170 - Directive 92/43/CEE). It prefers not too large and somewhat shallow ponds, carpeted with ground flora, and with clear water of low conductivity.

It is found in Morocco and in the Iberian Peninsula, namely in the hydrogeographical basins of the rivers Douro and Guadalquivir. In Portugal it was registered in only 4 locations in Alentejo, namely in a narrow and oblique zone (NE-SO). In the SCI of the Southwest Coast it was found in just one single pond.


As in Portugal its distribution is very limited, there should be particular attention to threats such as degradation and loss of habitat. Up to this date the specie has no legal protection status.

In the Southwest Coast is known in a single pond near to Vila Nova de Milfontes.

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