Gastrotricha and Platyhelminthes form a clade called Rouphozoa. Representatives of both taxa are main components of meiofaunal communities, but their role in the trophic ecology of marine and freshwater communities is not sufficiently studied. Traditional collection methods for meiofauna are optimized for Ecdysozoa, and include the use of fixatives or flotation techniques that are unsuitable for the preservation and identification of soft-bodied meiofauna. As a result, rouphozoans are usually underestimated in conventional biodiversity surveys and ecological studies. Here, we give an updated outline of their diversity and taxonomy, with some phylogenetic considerations. We describe successfully tested techniques for their recovery and study, and emphasize current knowledge on the ecology, distribution, and dispersal of freshwater gastrotrichs and microturbellarians. We also discuss the opportunities and pitfalls of (meta)barcoding studies as a means of overcoming the taxonomic impediment. Finally, we discuss the importance of rouphozoans in aquatic ecosystems and provide future research directions to fill in crucial gaps in the biology of these organisms needed for understanding their basic role in the ecology of benthos and their place in the trophic networks linking micro-, meio-, and macrofauna of freshwater ecosystems. © 2020, Springer Nature Switzerland AG.

The curious and neglected soft-bodied meiofauna: Rouphozoa (Gastrotricha and Platyhelminthes)

Balsamo M.
;
Guidi L.
Membro del Collaboration Group
;
2020

Abstract

Gastrotricha and Platyhelminthes form a clade called Rouphozoa. Representatives of both taxa are main components of meiofaunal communities, but their role in the trophic ecology of marine and freshwater communities is not sufficiently studied. Traditional collection methods for meiofauna are optimized for Ecdysozoa, and include the use of fixatives or flotation techniques that are unsuitable for the preservation and identification of soft-bodied meiofauna. As a result, rouphozoans are usually underestimated in conventional biodiversity surveys and ecological studies. Here, we give an updated outline of their diversity and taxonomy, with some phylogenetic considerations. We describe successfully tested techniques for their recovery and study, and emphasize current knowledge on the ecology, distribution, and dispersal of freshwater gastrotrichs and microturbellarians. We also discuss the opportunities and pitfalls of (meta)barcoding studies as a means of overcoming the taxonomic impediment. Finally, we discuss the importance of rouphozoans in aquatic ecosystems and provide future research directions to fill in crucial gaps in the biology of these organisms needed for understanding their basic role in the ecology of benthos and their place in the trophic networks linking micro-, meio-, and macrofauna of freshwater ecosystems. © 2020, Springer Nature Switzerland AG.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11576/2677096
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