Benthic rotifers and meiofauna | Rotiferalia

  • Bdelloidea

    Fascinating bdelloids

    Only females, no males have been found.
    They exhibit astonishing habitat plasticity.

  • Lone Oak

    Rotifers in acid streams

    The Lone Oak stream (Ashdown Forest, UK) has more than 45 different rotifer species.

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  • Meiofauna food-web

    Rotifers in food webs

    They are important prey for meio- and macrofaunal invertebrates and fish.

  • Monogononta

      Gorgeous monogononts

       occur in a large variety of forms and shapes.

  • Stand-Pipe Traps

    Standpipe traps

    to sample meiofauna inhabiting deeper sediment layers (Oberer Seebach, Austria).

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  • Rotifers deep in streambed sediments

    Rotifers also inhabit

    deep sediment layers.

  • Rotifers at streambed surface

    Bear Creek, BC, Canada

    Rotifers are everywhere.

  • Filinia fossil eggs

    roughly 2000 - 3000 years old.

  • Rotifers in the littoral, benthos and open water

    Moraine Lake, AL, Canada

    Rotifers inhabit the littoral, benthos and open water of lakes.

  • Rotifers in the hyporheic interstitial

    Muncho Creek, BC, Canada

    High rotifer species richness in subsurface sediments.

  • Rotifers in impacted streams

    Afon Hirnant (Gwynnedd, Wales, UK).

  • The Meiofauna

    of freshwater systems is defined as invertebrates in the size range between 50 - 500 μm.

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  • Cartoons for sale

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The Benthic Rotifer Website

Much about benthic rotifers and meiofauna.

Feature 1


Benthic rotifers are important in the diet of all predatory invertebrates and fish in streams and rivers. They are, for instance, an essential prey for early stages of predatory stonefly nymphs and larval chironomids (up to 70% of their diet), while their early instars feed exclusively on benthic rotifers.

Feature 2


Meiofauna are composed of benthic organisms from diverse Phyla, characterized by a high biodiversity. They can reach high population densities and exhibit high biomass turnover, substantially contributing to the secondary production and foodweb structures in most freshwater systems.

Feature 3


Here you can also find some entertaining and sometimes distracting thoughts depicted and drawn while listening to some research presentations at conferences or university meetings. If you are interested to add a rotifer or/and meiofauna cartoon to your collection, feel free to contact me.



Rotifers are small multicellular animals, rather invisible to most humans, and the only way to observe them is by using a microscope. In contrast to many other small-sized organisms, their amazing feature is the diversity of body shapes and forms. Rotifers are ubiquitous organisms occurring anywhere where there is a little humidity. The most commonly studied rotifers are those found in lakes and ponds, with more specialized literature dedicated to those within the plankton. Still very little is known about those inhabiting the interstitial sediments of rivers, sand beaches or pond and lake bottoms. This website is dedicated to introduce those benthic rotifers, to depict their complex ecology and to highlight their importance in benthic ecosystems.

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The freshwater meiofauna can be technically defined as animals passing through a 500 µm sieve and are retained in a 40 µm sieve1. Represented in the meiofauna are all classes of the metazoans, including smaller species or early larval stages of the macrofauna, as well as classes of protozoans exemplified by larger forms and species.
1. Fenchel, T.M. 1978. Ann. Rev. Ecol. Syst. 9, 99 ( read the abstract ).

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Philodinavus paradoxus  Murray

This short video shows one benthic, particle-grazing, often overlooked, rotifer species commonly inhabiting gravel streams.

The Rotiferalia Website

This website is dedicated to creatures below 500 μm in size, a dimension not seen without a microscope. Meiofauna (including rotifers) are benthic organisms (marine: 100 - 1000 μm; freshwaters: 40 - 500 μm) that contribute substantially to the biodiversity of lotic ecosystems with up to 82% of the total species richness. Due to fast generation times, most meiofaunal species display a high biomass turnover and production rate, considerably influencing the energy flow in fluvial systems. Moreover, the meiofauna covers a wide range of trophic levels in food-webs, asserting their central role in the functional dynamics of these systems.
Below are the links to general descriptions of the relevant taxa, while the respective portfolios aim to highlight some of the ecology of these organisms in stream/river systems.

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Benthic rotifers in some selected streams


Lone Oak stream, England

second order Lone Oak

Oberer Seebach, Austria

second order Seebach

Afon Mynach, Wales

second order Mynach

Nant Cwm Llwch, Wales

Cwm Llwch 3rd order stream