The biology and ecology of lotic nematodes


Walter Traunspurger, University of Bielefeld, Animal ecology, Morgenbreede 45, 33615 Bielefeld, Germany. E-mail:


  • 1Morphological structures for identifying freshwater nematodes, e.g. buccal cavity, sensory receptors, oesophagus, reproductive organs and tail are described.
  • 2Most freshwater nematodes belong to the Adenophorea and are characterised by the presence of setae, adhesive glands and conspicuous amphids.
  • 3Methods for collecting nematodes from the sediments of running water (e.g. corer, pumps), within plants and aufwuchs are listed. Methods for fixation, extracting and preparing nematodes for identification are described.
  • 4Life history parameters (e.g. generation time, eggs per female) are not available for lotic nematodes but are summarised for free-living nematodes in soil, lakes and seas. Field studies indicate that, in contrast to laboratory experiments with nematode cultures, many species will have a generation time of several months.
  • 5Abundance and species diversity of nematodes of lotic habitats are provided; more than 100 nematode species inhabit lotic habitats and densities can reach 230 individuals per ml.
  • 6Links between meiobenthic nematodes and the micro- and macrobenthos are unclear at present. Evidence such as the increased bacterial activity due to nematode grazing suggests that such interactions may be significant.