Information about Indian Ocean tardigrades is quite scarce and in most cases refers to species in coastal coralline sediment and occasionally in abyssal mud. The present data concern species found in the intertidal sand of Coco and La Digue Islands in the Seychelles, previously unsampled for tardigrades, as well as species in subtidal sediment found at depths ranging between 1 and 60 m off the shores of the Maldive Atolls. These sediments are all very similar and consist of heterogeneous coralline sand, moderately or scarcely sorted. Sixteen species (three new to science) were found in the Seychelles, belonging to Renaudarctidae, Stygarctidae, Halechiniscidae, Batillipedidae and Echiniscoididae. Diversity and evenness data are also interesting, with maximum values of H' = 2.59 and of J = 0.97. In the Maldives 25 species were found (two new to science) belonging to Neostygarctidae, Stygarctidae, Halechiniscidae and Batillipedidae. Such a number of species, despite the low percentage of tardigrade fauna (only 0.6% of the total meiofauna), contributes to the high values of both diversity and evenness, with H' ranging between 1.5 and 2.6 and J between 0.6 and 1. The Indian Ocean tardigrade fauna currently numbers 31 species of Arthrotardigrada and 2 species of Echiniscoidida. In the present study, Arthrotardigrada are the most abundant and all the families are present except Neoarctidae. Halechiniscidae is present with all the sub-families (except Euclavartinae), thus contributing to the high diversity values. Furthermore, 18 species, representing more than 50% of the total marine tardigrade fauna, are new records for the Indian Ocean, including five species new to science.
Tardigrada, Heterotardigrada, Seychelles, Maldives, biodiversity