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Nematodes of the Wonderfontein Cave (Witwatersrand Basin, South Africa)

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Although the importance of nematodes, especially in soil ecosystems, is well appreciated, very little is known about the occurrence of and ecosystem services provided by cavernicolous nematodes. This study was undertaken to determine the nematode occurrence, density and distribution in the Wonderfontein Cave (South Africa), which is subjected to the influx of water from the Wonderfontein Spruit. Of the 53 nematode genera collected from the Wonderfontein Cave during the first (April 2013) and second (September 2013) sampling intervals, 22 have never been reported from a cave environment. Results indicated that many of the nematodes found may only be temporary residents introduced from the surface environment. This study reveals the necessity of further efforts to investigate the nematode communities associated with subterranean environments, which will provide a better understanding of the functioning of the associated ecosystems.

Affiliations: 1: 1Unit for Environmental Sciences and Management, Potchefstroom Campus, North-West University, Private Bag X6001, Potchefstroom 2520, South Africa; 2: 2Biosystematics Division, Agricultural Research Council – Plant Protection Research Institute (ARC-PPRI), Roodeplaat, Private Bag X134, Queenswood 0121, South Africa


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