Meiofauna consists of small benthic animals (living on the sea beds). The meiofauna collection of the Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle includes various groups, such as rotifers, tardigrades and many worms.

The reference type collection includes around 800 different species (and as many types) on slides, representing over 3,000 microscope preparations which are listed electronically in JACIM. This group contains 8 different branches (Annelida, Gastrotricha, Kinorhyncha, Loricifera, Nematoda, Platyhelminthes, Rotifera and Tardigrada) and is accompanied by a large library about various groups living in the interstitial environment. It is the only correctly structured collection in this field in France, and probably the third or fourth biggest worldwide (Université de Gand, Natural History Muséum, Plymouth Marine Laboratory and the Smithsonian Institution). A specific database dedicated to nematodes has been transferred under the name “Bougainville” into the database of the MarBEF European network of excellence, where it may be consulted. It contains over 120,000 Nematofauna specimens from the main biotopes of the world’s oceans (tropical and temperate coastal sedimentary environments, bathyal environments, etc.) which are preserved on slides, and most of the resulting faunistic lists by station are entered into the databases. The geographical areas represented are the coasts of metropolitan France (Brittany, Atlantic, Mediterranean), New Caledonia, Fiji, Polynesia, Guadeloupe and Martinique, Guiana, Japan, Vietnam, and the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean basins.

The meiofauna collection, deposited at the Aquatic Environments and Populations Department and managed at the MR 7208 Biologie des ORganismes et Ecosystèmes Aquatiques (BOREA), results from the activities of the Section vers libres (Free living worm section), created in 1968 within the former Worm Zoology Laboratory then the Marine Invertebrate Biology Laboratory by Mrs J. Renaud-Mornant and N. Gourbault, and G. Boucher. The general Meiofauna collection is made up of several collections: the free living marine Nematodes, Gastrotrichs, Kinorhyncha, Tardigrades, Turbellaria, Rotifers, Annelids, and various minor groups. The collection has mainly grown due to the harvests carried out during ecology-themed oceanographic missions financed by the CNRS-INSU, Ifremer or IRD.

Several electronic relational databases have enabled us to keep the descriptions and taxonomic revisions up to date (taxonomic reference list of 3,250 descriptions), since the publication of the Bremerhaven Checklist drawn up by Gerlach and Rieman (1973 and 1974). They also provide a dictionary of described genera with their systematic position, and give us access to most of the faunistic lists published in the various biomes of the world’s oceans.

Cédric Hubas, Head of Collections
Tél. 01 40 79 57 45