The meiofauna, or sand-gap fauna, comprises a variety of invertebrates in and on the seafloor with a body length between ca. 32 µm and 1 mm. We investigate the changes in the community of these tiny organisms using a combination of morphological and molecular methods. The aim of the study is an inventory and first-time characterization of the meiofauna communities in terms of species composition, abundance and biomass, as well as a recording of possible changes due to the MGF exclusion.

In addition to the sampling in the marine protected areas, additional working areas in different sediment types of the German EEZ will be sampled based on rapid detection methods (metabarcoding, eDNA) in order to record the distribution of meiofauna species and to understand which environmental variables structure the abundance, diversity and biomass of meiofauna. With the help of species distribution models, these findings will be modelled on the surface and will be available for ecosystem-based monitoring, recolonization and climate impact scenarios.