Keratella cochlearis

Keratella cochlearis (Gosse 1851)

Original Published Description:

Gosse, P. H. (1851).  A catalogue of Rotifers found in Britain, with descriptions of five new genera and thirty-two new species. Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist., London. 2(VIII), 
Languages: English


Look Alikes

The taxonomy of K. cochlearis is particularly confused. Validation of the numerous proposed subspecies and infrasubspecific variants awaits a thorough revision of the taxon.


Lorica spoon-shaped; with six spines in front; the medial pair curving strongly forwards: posterior extremity attenuated into a long slender spine, inclined forwards. From Ahlstrom (1943): Lorica terminates in a stout median posterior spine which usually varies in length from as long as the body proper to onethird as long but which may be even more reduced or completely wanting. Lorica oval shaped in dorsal view, depth of the dorsal plate is a little more than half the width; the greatest width of the lorica is slightly behind the middle of the body, although the lorica tapers but slightly anteriorward; the lorica is about two-thirds as wide as long (width varies from 0.56-0.71 of length of body exclusive of spines). Anterior dorsal margin with six spines: medians longest, curve ventrally, intermediates usually slightly divergent, somewhat shorter than lateral spines which are convergent at their tips and which arise at a slight angle toward the ventral. The lorica has the usual pattern of minute interlacing areolations on both plates. The ventral plate is usually pustulate on the upper third only, although this feature is somewhat variable. The dorsal plate is often somewhat pustulate, the small pustules being at the corners of areolations and scattered over the entire plate. The foundation pattern of the dorsum is characterized by a mediam line extending longitudinally from behind the median frontal area to the base of the posterior spine. Often there is but one pair of fully enclosed carinal plaques: the antero-carinal polygons (hexagons). Not infrequently, however, the postero-carinal polygons are fully formed; when this is the case there are two very small unenclosed carinal areas posterior to the two enclosed pairs of carinal plaques. There are two pairs of enclosed lateral polygons to the sides of the anterocarinal polygons; a third pair may be present to the sides of the postero-carinal plaques.

Ecology and Distribution



Marine environment: Camargue, S France (De Ridder, 1960a & 1961); Bay of Bothnia in Bothnian Sea (Sandström, 1979); Rovigno (Wulfert 1942a); Lakes C Sweden (Pejler, 1965 & 1972); Sea, brackish and freshwater pools in S Finland (Björklund, 1972a); Coast of S Finland (Eriksen, 1969); Fjord Himmerfjärden, N Baltic Sea, Sweden (Johansson, 1983); Barther Bodden, S Baltic Sea, Germany (Vietinghoff et al., 1984); Neva Bay, Gulf of Finland, R.F. (Telesh, 1986); Brackish water bay near Porvoo, S Finland (Järnefelt, 1964); Brackish waters in the Lorraine Orientale, Fr. (De Ridder, 1969a); Brackish waters near Bruges, Belgium (De Ridder & Verheye, 1980); Poland (Adamkiewicz-Choynacka & Rozanska, 1990); Scandinavian coastal waters (Thane-Fenchel, 1968); Black Sea (Rudescu, 1961); Gulf of Bothnia, G. of Finland, G. of Riga (Berzinš, 1960); Poland (Adamkiewicz-Choynacka & Rozanska, 1990); Germany (Althaus 1957a); Belgium (De Pauw 1969; De Ridder 1957a, b, 1981); British Channel (De Ridder 1959); Lorraine orientale – France (De Ridder 1968); Delta del Ebro (Fores et al. 1986); rock-pools in theTvaminne archipelago, southern Finland (Godske Bjorklund 1972b); Germany (Hauer 1925 1957); Finland (Lagus & Lindholm 2000); Baltic Sea (Meiners et al. 2002); Germany (Remane 1929; Rentz 1940; Schwarz 1955/1956; Schwarz 1959, 1962); Chech Republica (Sladecek 1955); Southern Baltic Bay (Thiel 1996); Northern Baltic Sea (Viitasalo et al. 1995); Netherland (Wibaut-Isebree Moens 1954); Germany (Ahlrichs 2003).

Continental waters: everywhere


Cosmopolitan in freshwater, brackish and marine habitats. This is probably the mostwidely distributed and common rotifer in nature. It is also a truly planktonic species.

Life Cycle

Like all monogononts, K. cochlearis punctuates parthenogenesis with the production of males and resting eggs in particular condition. The cycle may end in the reduced forms by the intervention of a sexual phase, or the changes may again occur in reverse order and complete the cycle in that manner. In Keratella cyclomorphosis is most noticeable in the variation in length of the posterior spine (or spines) and is best exemplified in this species. Ahlstrom (1943) found in K. cochlearis a form with a long posterior spine (this species has a single, median posterior spine) in the collections during the winter months; there is a gradual reduction in size until July or August at which time a form with a short posterior spine or the tecta form without posterior spines dominates. During the remainder of the year there is a gradual reversal until the form with a long posterior spine again dominates. The present species is not only one of the commonest rotifers but also one of the most variable in shape.



This species is easily cultured and it has been used as a model in order to quantify variation in size at different conditions.


  • Anuraea cochlearis Gosse 1851 (basionym)
  • Keratella cochlearis baicalensis Gaigalas 1958 (synonym)
  • Anuraea stipitata Ehrenberg 1838 (synonym)

Taxonomic Notes

Syn.: Anuraea cochlearis Gosse 1851