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Global diversity of nematodes (Nematoda) in freshwater

Authors:Eyualem Abebe, Wilfrida Decraemer and Paul De Ley

Abstract:Despite free-living nematodes being present in all types of limnetic habitats including unfavorable conditions that exclude many other meiobenthic invertebrates, they received less attention than marine and terrestrial forms. Two-fifths of the nematode families, one-fifth of the nearly 1800 genera and only 7% of the about 27,000 nominal species are recorded from freshwater habitats. The Dorylaimia are the most successful in freshwater habitats with nearly two-thirds of all known freshwater nematodes belonging to this subclass. Members of the subclass Enoplia are principally marine though include some exclusively freshwater taxa with extreme endemism. The subclass Chromadoria includes half of the freshwater nematode families and members of the Monhysterida and Plectida are among the most widely reported freshwater nematodes. Studies on freshwater nematodes show extreme regional bias; those from the southern hemisphere are extremely underrepresented, especially compared to European freshwater bodies. The majority of records are from a single biogeographic region. Discussion on nematode endemism is largely premature since apart from Lake Baikal, the nematofauna of ancient lakes as centers of speciation is limited and recent discoveries show high nematode abundance and diversity in cryptic freshwater bodies, underground calcrete formations and stromatolite pools potentially with a high number of new taxa.

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