Meiobenthonic Nematoda

Our team studies free-living marine nematodes. Among multicellular animals inhabiting marine sediments, nematodes are considered to be the most numerous. Their quota in meiobenthic communities usually accounts 60-100%, and their density can amount to more than one million individuals per one square meter of sea floor. Species diversity of marine free-living nematodes is immense. About 5.000 species of marine nematodes are known to date, but, the total number of marine nematode species is estimated at several hundred thousand. Besides, the local diversity of marine nematodes is very high. For instance, among 1.000 examined deep-sea nematode individuals, about 100-200 species can be found, and most of them are new, unknown. This shows clearly that deep-sea nematodes as the most common and most dominate meiobenthic taxon are greatly understudied.

One of our main purposes is to distinguish and describe new nematode species. The collection of German Centre of Marine Biodiversity possesses samples from different parts of the World Ocean that contain a great amount of uninvestigated nematodes.

The other great challenge is revealing the distribution patterns of nematodes in the World Ocean. Which nematode taxa inhabit the continental shelf, the continental slope, the abyss, or different regions? How high is diversity of nematode assemblages? Which taxa dominate there and how high is their density? Which environmental factors determine found regularities?

The deep sea is considered to be the least studied habitat on Earth! This statement is especially true of deep-sea nematodes. If we sum up all deep-sea samples, which have been used for the study of deep-sea nematodes, the complete investigated sea floor surface does not exceed several hundreds of square meters. That is why the study of deep-sea nematodes (their density, distribution, taxonomic composition, diversity, etc.) from different regions of the World Ocean is the main topic of our investigations.