Global diversity of nematodes (Nematoda) in freshwater

  • Eyualem AbebeEmail author
  • Wilfrida Decraemer
  • Paul De Ley
Part of the Developments in Hydrobiology book series (DIHY, volume 198)


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.


Free-living nematodes Freshwater nematodes Nematode biogeography Distribution Biodiversity Global estimate 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eyualem Abebe
    • 1
    Email author
  • Wilfrida Decraemer
    • 2
  • Paul De Ley
    • 3
  1. 1.School of Mathematics, Science and Technology, Department of BiologyElizabeth City State UniversityElizabeth CityUSA
  2. 2.Department of InvertebratesRoyal Belgian Institute of Natural SciencesBrusselsBelgium
  3. 3.Department of NematologyUniversity of CaliforniaRiversideUSA

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