Living Reference Work Entry

Marine Animal Forests

pp 1-29

Date: Latest Version

Deep-Sea Suprabenthic Communities: The Forgotten Biodiversity

  • Inmaculada FrutosAffiliated withUniversity of Hamburg, Center of Natural History (CeNak), Zoological Museum Email author 
  • , Angelika BrandtAffiliated withUniversity of Hamburg, Center of Natural History (CeNak), Zoological Museum
  • , Jean Claude SorbeAffiliated withStation Marine, Station Marine


Suprabenthos includes all swimming bottom-dependent animals (mainly small peracarid crustaceans) living in the water layer just above the sea floor. Although being widespread in all oceans from estuaries and shallow waters to the deep sea, this fauna has been poorly examined and remains virtually unknown for most marine areas. Suprabenthic communities are more often neglected in ecological studies, although they highly contribute to global benthic biodiversity (with many species new to science, frequently discovered in this near-bottom environment). In deep-sea areas, suprabenthic communities may constitute hotspots of biodiversity. Furthermore, some suprabenthic taxa are known to play a major trophic role in benthic ecosystems. As many of these taxa have good swimming capacities, efficient devices are necessary to catch this faunal component that is not sampled with conventional box-corers or dredges.

This chapter provides an account of the most recent quantitative studies on diversity and abundance of deep suprabenthic communities from different areas ranging from temperate to polar seas, including data on ecology, biogeography, and biology of species and trying to understand their role in the marine animal forest.


Peracarida Eucarida Suprabenthos Sledges Biodiversity Community structure Marine animal forest