Marine Biodiversity

, Volume 40, Issue 3, pp 143–159

The state of knowledge on deep-sea nematode taxonomy: how many valid species are known down there?


    • Forschungsinstitut SenckenbergDeutsches Zentrum für Marine Biodiversitätsforschung
  • Gunnar Gad
    • Forschungsinstitut SenckenbergDeutsches Zentrum für Marine Biodiversitätsforschung
  • Maria M. Miljutina
    • Forschungsinstitut SenckenbergDeutsches Zentrum für Marine Biodiversitätsforschung
  • Vadim O. Mokievsky
    • P.P. Shirshov Institute of OceanologyRussian Academy of Sciences
  • Verônica Fonseca-Genevois
    • Departamento de ZoologiaLaboratório de Meiofauna
  • André M. Esteves
    • Departamento de ZoologiaLaboratório de Meiofauna

DOI: 10.1007/s12526-010-0041-4

Cite this article as:
Miljutin, D.M., Gad, G., Miljutina, M.M. et al. Mar Biodiv (2010) 40: 143. doi:10.1007/s12526-010-0041-4


All available information from literature sources dealing with deep-sea nematode species was analyzed, in order to obtain an overview of the state of knowledge in deep-sea nematode taxonomy and answer the question of how many valid nematode species are known from the deep sea so far. One hundred and twenty-seven taxonomic and ecological literature sources reported a total of 638 valid species belonging to 175 genera and 44 families, from 474 deep-sea stations at depths of 400–8,380 m. This number is less than 16% of all known marine nematode species, whereas the deep sea comprises about 91% of the ocean bottom. Of these species, 71% were initially described from the deep sea. Most of the valid species have been reported from the North Atlantic, including the Mediterranean. The rest of the World Ocean, including the Pacific, Indian, Arctic and Antarctic oceans, is considerably less studied. The largest numbers of valid species were reported from the continental slope and the abyssal plains, while information on valid species from trenches, deep-sea canyons, and seamounts is extremely scanty. Some deep-sea families are much more investigated than others in proportion to their relative species abundances in the deep sea, i.e., the percentage of valid species from these families among all valid deep-sea species is much higher than the real percentage of species from these families reported in faunistic studies (e.g., Desmoscolecidae, Comesomatidae, Sphaerolaimidae, Benthimermithidae, Leptosomatidae, and Draconematidae). On the other hand, the families Xyalidae, Oxystominidae, and Monhysteridae were recognized as the most “underinvestigated,” as, in spite of their high species abundance in the deep sea, there are quite a few taxonomic studies on these taxa. Some deep-sea nematode species were reported from two or three oceans, and can be considered probable cosmopolitan species. Some number of probable eurybathic species were also found (the difference between minimum and maximum depth was from 1 km to more than 5 km).


AbyssContinental slopeCosmopolitanEurybathicDeep-sea habitatsMarine free-living nematodesValid species

Supplementary material

12526_2010_41_MOESM1_ESM.xls (888 kb)
ESMxls (XLS 888 kb)

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© Senckenberg, Gesellschaft für Naturforschung and Springer 2010