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Cosmopolitanism and Biogeography of the Genus Manganonema (Nematoda: Monhysterida) in the Deep Sea

Author(s): Daniela Zeppilli | Ann Vanreusel | Roberto Danovaro

Journal: Animals
ISSN 2076-2615

Volume: 1;
Issue: 3;
Start page: 291;
Date: 2011;
Original page

Keywords: deep sea | biogeography | cosmopolitanism | nematodes | Manganonema

Spatial patterns of species diversity provide information about the mechanisms that regulate biodiversity and are important for setting conservation priorities. Present knowledge of the biogeography of meiofauna in the deep sea is scarce. This investigation focuses on the distribution of the deep-sea nematode genus Manganonema, which is typically extremely rare in deep-sea sediment samples. Forty-four specimens of eight different species of this genus were recorded from different Atlantic and Mediterranean regions. Four out of the eight species encountered are new to science. We report here that this genus is widespread both in the Atlantic and in the Mediterranean Sea. These new findings together with literature information indicate that Manganonema is a cosmopolitan genus, inhabiting a variety of deep-sea habitats and oceans. Manganonema shows the highest diversity at water depths >4,000 m. Our data, therefore, indicate that this is preferentially an abyssal genus that is able, at the same time, to colonize specific habitats at depths shallower than 1,000 m. The analysis of the distribution of the genus Manganonema indicates the presence of large differences in dispersal strategies among different species, ranging from locally endemic to cosmopolitan. Lacking meroplanktonic larvae and having limited dispersal ability due to their small size, it has been hypothesized that nematodes have limited dispersal potential. However, the investigated deep-sea nematodes were present across different oceans covering macro-scale distances. Among the possible explanations (hydrological conditions, geographical and geological pathways, long-term processes, specific historical events), their apparent preference of colonizing highly hydrodynamic systems, could suggest that these infaunal organisms are transported by means of deep-sea benthic storms and turbidity currents over long distances.

Tango Jona
Tangokurs Rapperswil-Jona

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