The Araripe Basin is the most extensive interior basin in northeastern Brazil, comprising areas of Ceará, Piauí and Pernambuco states. The Santana Formation, attributed to the Aptian–?lower Albian age of the basin, is subdivided into two members, Crato and Romualdo, which bear an abundant fossil record of plant fragments, arthropods and vertebrates, especially 3D-preserved fishes. The present study focuses on the taxonomy, ontogeny and paleoecology of two ostracode species from the Romualdo Member and the top section of the Crato Member (Ipubi layers), Harbinia salitrensis (Krömmelbein and Weber, 1971) emend. and H. alta new species. The ontogenetic series for both species are illustrated, except for the A-8 instar; H. salitrensis is also redescribed. The present work is also the first to produce quantitative information about the paleoecology of the Santana Formation based on ostracode populations. The results obtained from analyses of the population age-structure of both species, in addition to dominance (Simpson) and diversity index (Shannon) values, corroborated previous data on the studied sequence. According to these results, the strata were deposited in a limnic, low-to-moderate energy environment with salinity levels varying from oligohaline to mesohaline. The new data indicate the possibility of these environments also being hypersaline.