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      The groundwater invertebrate fauna of the Channel Islands

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      Subterranean Biology

      Pensoft Publishers

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          Abstract

          The Channel Islands are a small archipelago of British dependencies just off the coast of Normandy at the western end of the English Channel. There were only three records for stygobitic Crustacea [Niphargus fontanus Bate, 1859 and N. kochianus Bate, 1859 from Jersey and N. aquilex Schiődte, 1855 from Guernsey] from the archipelago and no systematic survey has been carried out of the islands for their groundwater fauna till present. Recently sampling was carried out in wells, boreholes and springs on the four largest islands, Jersey, Guernsey, Alderney and Sark during February 2012. Niphargus aquilex was widespread across all four islands and did not appear to be restricted to any particular geology. Niphargus ladmiraulti was present in large numbers in a single borehole on Jersey, the first record of this species from the archipelago. Niphargus kochianus was collected from two sites on Alderney and the syncarid Antrobathynella stammeri (Jakobi, 1954) from two sites on the west coast of Jersey. The records for A. stammeri are new for the Channel Islands and possibly represent the first records of this species from the French bio-geographical area. The presence of N. fontanus on the islands was not confirmed. Several species of stygophilic Cyclopoida were also recorded during the survey along with epigean freshwater invertebrate taxa, which were mostly present in springs and shallow wells close to surface streams.

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          Most cited references 13

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          A molecular test for cryptic diversity in ground water: how large are the ranges of macro-stygobionts?

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            Towards an optimal sampling strategy to assess groundwater biodiversity: comparison across six European regions

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              The ancient Britons: groundwater fauna survived extreme climate change over tens of millions of years across NW Europe.

              Global climate changes during the Cenozoic (65.5-0 Ma) caused major biological range shifts and extinctions. In northern Europe, for example, a pattern of few endemics and the dominance of wide-ranging species is thought to have been determined by the Pleistocene (2.59-0.01 Ma) glaciations. This study, in contrast, reveals an ancient subsurface fauna endemic to Britain and Ireland. Using a Bayesian phylogenetic approach, we found that two species of stygobitic invertebrates (genus Niphargus) have not only survived the entire Pleistocene in refugia but have persisted for at least 19.5 million years. Other Niphargus species form distinct cryptic taxa that diverged from their nearest continental relative between 5.6 and 1.0 Ma. The study also reveals an unusual biogeographical pattern in the Niphargus genus. It originated in north-west Europe approximately 87 Ma and underwent a gradual range expansion. Phylogenetic diversity and species age are highest in north-west Europe, suggesting resilience to extreme climate change and strongly contrasting the patterns seen in surface fauna. However, species diversity is highest in south-east Europe, indicating that once the genus spread to these areas (approximately 25 Ma), geomorphological and climatic conditions enabled much higher diversification. Our study highlights that groundwater ecosystems provide an important contribution to biodiversity and offers insight into the interactions between biological and climatic processes.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Subterranean Biology
                SB
                Pensoft Publishers
                1314-2615
                1768-1448
                May 25 2015
                May 25 2015
                : 15
                : 69-94
                Article
                10.3897/subtbiol.15.4792
                © 2015
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