2007 Volume 2 Issue 1 Pages 1-11
Gnathiidae is a family of Isopoda, showing a distinct morphology and ecology. Species in the family have ten walking legs compared to 14 for isopods in general. The life cycle of the Gnathiidae is biphasic including a fish-parasitic larval phase and a non-feeding adult phase, whereas most other isopods have a monophasic life cycle with direct-developing young similar to adults in morphology and ecology. Although the ecological information on gnathiids has been described fragmentally, studies on the life cycles and population biology have increased dramatically since the 1980's. Larval biology including the host species, emergence pattern and predation risks during parasitism have also been studied from the view of fish disease and symbiotic interactions among fishes. Some authors reported the utilization patterns of benthic substrata and harem formation of adults therein. However, the ecological knowledge of gnathiids is based on a limited number of species of which the benthic habitats are known. Studies rarely identify larvae because of the lack, or insufficiency, of the taxonomic description of larvae of most species. The difficulty in identifying larvae has prevented detailed examination of ectoparasitic behaviour. Furthermore, gnathiid larvae emerging from the benthos or attaching to hosts have been investigated separately from benthic individuals. More efforts on taxonomy and the classification of larvae are necessary to elucidate the larval ecology and the integration of larval and adult biology.