Nematodes, copepods, kinorhynchs, ostracods, gastrotrichs, and loriciferans are only some of the groups found in the meiofauna. The composition of the communities is strongly dependent on the environmental conditions in the respective habitat. Sediment grain size, oxygen content and food availability are reflected in the communities. We aim to investigate the ecological circumstances that lead to differences in communities and the function of meiofauna in different marine ecosystems. The reliable identification of species is only possible on the basis of good descriptions. Since only few species of benthic copepods are known from the deep sea, we dedicate a large part of our work to the detailed description of new species of the order Harpacticoida. With the samples collected worldwide during the Census of Marine Life project CeDAMar we are able to further investigate the large scale distribution patterns of deep-sea copepods.


Meiofauna is not only defined by its small body size between 32 µm and 1 mm. These organisms also differ from the larger macrofauna by their way of life and their reproductive strategies. Their role in the ecosystem “seabed” from the tidal areas to the deep sea is comparable to the role of microorganisms in the garden soil or in compost. They are decomposers and users of all organic material that accumulates at the seafloor. But there are also predatory representatives in the many animal groups that make up the meiofauna.