Freeliving flatworms (Turbellaria) are a very-species rich group of hermaphroditic organisms, occuring in marine, freshwater and even semi-terrestrial habitats. About 6200 species of free-living flatworms have been described, but this is a large underestimate of the actual number that probably exists. Despite their important role in the ecology of marine ecosystems and their abundancy both in number of individuals and in number of species, turbellaria are a very little studied group. This is partly because of the fact that they are considered difficult to identify.

Archimonocelis hasanuddin  Gyratrix hermaphroditus (stilet)  Undescribed species of the family Koinocystididae (Picture: Lukas Schärer) 
To enhance the study of turbellaria and to facilitate their identification, a database was developed at the Research Group Biodiversity, Phylogeny of the University Hasselt, in close cooperation with the Flanders marine institute (VLIZ). The end goal of this database is to cover all Rhabditophoran flatworms, providing figures of habitus and important details of the anatomy, literature data and information on distribution. At the moment, only the taxa Eukalyptorhynchia and Proseriata are completed and made accessible.

Macrorhynchus manusferrea (stilet) Undescribed species of the family Monocelididae Rogneda habitus Paraustrorhynchus sp. Rogneda hibernica
This database is also an addition to the database developed by Seth Tyler and collaborators (, to which members of the research group Biodiversity, Phylogeny and Population studies also have contributed.

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If any data constitutes a substantial proportion of the records used in secondary analyses (i.e. more than 25% of the data are derived from this source, or the data are essential to arrive at the conclusion of the analysis), the authors/managers of the database should be contacted. It may be useful to contact us directly in case there are additional data that may strengthen the analysis or there are features of the data that are important to consider but may not have been apparent from the metadata.

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Page last modified on 2012-06-05 13:49:06 - contact: Tom Artois