Marine Biodiversity

, Volume 49, Issue 5, pp 2141–2165 | Cite as

Description of six new species of Mesonerilla (Nerillidae, Annelida) and an emended description of M. intermedia Wilke, 1953, from marine and cave environments

  • Katrine WorsaaeEmail author
  • Maria Damsgaard Mikkelsen
  • Alejandro Martínez
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Interstitial and Cave Diversity in Atlantic Oceanic Islands


Nerillidae is a species-rich family of meiofaunal, mainly interstitial annelids. The genus Mesonerilla previously contained eight described species. We here describe six new species of Mesonerilla based on detailed morphological light and scanning electron microscopy studies. The new species were collected from coastal subtidal and tidal sediments, as well as from anchialine caves, in the Mediterranean, Canary Islands, Panamá, Trinidad and Tobago and the USA. All species of Mesonerilla contain nine segments, two-three antennae, two club-shaped palps, parapodial cirri and compound chaetae in most segments. New species are diagnosed by unique character traits and/or a unique combination of characters involving differences in shape of appendages, reproductive characters and glandular and ciliary patterns. Their validation is further supported by a molecular phylogeny including these and the majority of described species of Mesonerilla. With most of the diagnostic characters of the described species being hardly discernible, and with potential additional molecular identifiable species left undescribed, the genus Mesonerilla, as many other interstitial groups, show a high degree of cryptic diversity.


Interstitial Meiofauna Anchialine fauna Microscopy Molecular phylogeny 



First of all, we would like to thank Christopher Laumer for collecting and photographing the specimens of the new species M. laerkae and Greg Rouse for collecting some of the examined material of M. intermedia. We greatly acknowledge the many colleagues and students who have helped over more than 10 years of specimen collection for this study, during trips arranged by KW and AM. We are grateful to Elena Mateo and Leopoldo Moro for assistance with obtaining the permissions to sample in Lanzarote, as well as to divers Luis E. Cañadas, Enrique Domínguez, Carola D. Jorge, Ralf Schoenemark and a larger group of international students and colleagues in helping us collect and sort out the animals during the First International Workshop to Marine and Anchialine Meiofauna, Lanzarote 2011. The workshop was funded by Consejería de Medio Ambiente del Cabildo de Lanzarote and Reserva de la Biosfera. We thank Thomas M Iliffe, Terence Tysall, Tim Rozzi and Jill Heinerth for collecting samples from Montaña de Arena in 2008, as well as to Jorge Núñez Fraga for the donation of his material from Los Jameos del Agua. Finally, we are also grateful for the invitation to participate in trips organised by our colleagues Jon Norenburg (to STRI, Panamá), Greg Rouse (to the Great Barrier Reef, Australia), Marco Curini-Galletti (to Sardinia, Italy) and Maikon Di Domenico (to Napoli, Italy).

Funding information

Funding of the more than seven expeditions over 8 years was made possible through numerous agencies with the most recent laboratory and expedition costs to México being covered by the Carlsberg Foundation (grants: 2013_01_0779 to AM and CF_0946 and 2013_01_0501 to KW) as well as supported through salaries and administration of the University of Copenhagen to KW, BCG and colleagues. Collections in Lanzarote and secondary laboratory costs were financially supported by the Danish Research Council (grant no. 272–06–0260 to KW) and the Carlsberg Foundation (2010_01_0802 to KW) as well as Consejería de Medio Ambiente del Gobierno de Lanzarote and authorised by Gobierno de Canarias and Centros Turísticos. AM was supported by Marie Skolodowska-Curie Individual Grant (IF-EF), H2020 Program of the EU, number 745530—“ANCAVE—Anchialine caves to understand evolutionary processes”.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All applicable international, national and/or institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed.

Sampling and field studies

All necessary permits for sampling and observational field studies have been obtained by the authors from the competent authorities and are mentioned in the acknowledgements, if applicable.

Data availability

All data generated or analysed during this study are included in this published article.


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Copyright information

© Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Marine Biological Section, Department of BiologyUniversity of CopenhagenCopenhagenDenmark
  2. 2.Institute for Water Research, National Research Council of ItalyVerbaniaItaly

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