Original paper

Neuston: Its definition with a historical review regarding its concept and community structure

Marshall, Harold G.; Burchardt, Lubomira


Since Naumann (1917) introduced the term neuston, various criteria and descriptions have been used to identify the habitat and its populations. Dissimilar methods of collection protocols have contributed to these different interpretations. To more fully identify the restricted ecological niche occupied by this unique community, papers from the original and more recent freshwater and marine neuston studies are discussed along with the common sampling methods for neuston. Characteristics of the neuston habitat are also presented, with definitions for neuston, epineuston, and hyponeuston. Attachment to the surface layer by its floral or faunal populations is not considered a requirement, and the neuston community includes organisms that move directly on or below the water surface. The depth of the neuston (hyponeuston) community below the water's surface can be determined by noting statistically significant changes within the populations with increasing depth below the surface layer. This depth would be expected to change diurnally and seasonally, and also to differ between freshwater and marine habitats. The horizontal patchiness of the neuston should also be anticipated and resolved through an adequate sampling protocol.


neustonepineustonhyponeustonwater surfacecommunity