Free-living marine nematodes exceed all other metazoan animals in abundance of specimens in benthic sediment, constituting a principal component of the meiofauna (the community of microscopic animals inhabiting the ocean floor). The form and function of various families and orders of nematodes are presented, and peculiarities of their locomotion, nutritional and reproductive behaviour, life cycles, digestion and respiration, seasonality, vertical and horizontal migrations, population densities, and community structures in different marine environments are described. Emphasis is placed on the function of nematodes in benthic ecosystems, for example in enhancing bacterial activity creating an environment that can be exploited by other meiobenthic animals, and their roles in food webs. The reader is introduced to the fascinating world of unusual associations of nematodes with other marine animals from protists (protozoa) to whales, gardening of bacteria crops on nematode`s bodies, and nematode communities that exist in Arctic marine ice. Also, potential for using nematode community structure and composition as a highly sensitive tool in monitoring the marine environment is presented
Pensoft Series Parasitologica No 9
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