Netherland Journal of Aquatic Ecology

, Volume 26, Issue 1, pp 31–41 | Cite as

Community structure and functional roles of meiofauna in the North Sea

  • Carlo Heip
  • Rony Huys
  • Rob Alkemade


Knowiedge on community structure of North Sea meiofauna has greatly increased recently. A quasisynoptic picture of meiofauna densities and copepod community structure from 171 stations of the southern North Sea, sampled in April–May 1986, has been obtained during the North Sea Benthos Survey. Latitudinal patterns in meiofauna abundance and copepod weight, abundance and diversity exist in an area between 51°30′N and 58°30′N. Using TWINSPAN-classification five major groups of copepod species can be recognized which are related to sediment type, latitude and depth. The part of the meiofauna in total benthic energy flow, their role in the benthic food web and in biogeochemical cycles is discussed based on existing literature. There are still considerable gaps in knowledge and the field is not progressing rapidly.


meiofauna North Sea community structure energetics biogeochemical cycles 


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Copyright information

© Netherlands Hydrobiological Society 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carlo Heip
    • 1
  • Rony Huys
    • 1
  • Rob Alkemade
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Estuarine and Coastal EcologyNetherlands Institute of EcologyYersekeThe Netherlands

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