Worms, Nematoda

Scott Lyell Gardner

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Scopus citations


Nematodes are the most speciose phylum of metazoa on earth. Not only do they occur in huge numbers as parasites of all known animal groups, they are found in the soils, as parasites of plants and they occur in large numbers in the most extreme environments, from the antarctic dry-valleys to the benthos of the ocean. They are extremely variable in their morphological characteristics, each group showing morphological adaptations to the environment that they inhabit. Soil dwelling forms are extremely small, many marine species have long and complex setae, and parasitic species manifest amazingly great reproductive potential and large body size. Nematodes are one of the major synanthropic metazoans of humans; some species such as pinworms having coevolved with humans and their relatives from the beginning of the lineage of the primates. Although estimates of the numbers of species known hover at approximately 27,000, actual numbers of taxonomists/systematists with expertise in this group is actually decreasing yearly. This, despite the fact that the Nemata are probably the last great group of Metazoa to be well documented and described. Estimates of the actual number of species that remain to be described include several thousand from insects and millipedes, several thousand from vertebrates and millions from marine habitats, based on actual transect studies in the ocean sediments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationEncyclopedia of Biodiversity
Subtitle of host publicationSecond Edition
PublisherElsevier Inc.
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9780123847195
ISBN (Print)9780123847201
StatePublished - Jan 1 2013


  • Biodiversity
  • Classification
  • Cuticle
  • Ectoparasitic
  • Endoparasitic
  • Marine
  • Microbivorous
  • Morphology
  • Nemata
  • Nematode
  • Phylogeny
  • Soil

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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