Publication details

The harpacticoid assemblages (Copepoda: Harpacticoida) in the Western Carpathian spring fens in relation to environmental variables and habitat age

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Year of publication 2015
Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source Limnologica
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Science

Field Ecology
Keywords Harpacticoids; Spring fens; Nutrients; pH; Climate; Habitat age; Species richness
Description Harpacticoids are an important component of meiofaunal assemblages in springs. No information so far has been available on harpacticoid assemblages of the Western Carpathian spring fens, unique biotopes of high conservation value which cover a very long gradient of mineral content of groundwater, due to the variable geological background setting. Spring fens are isolated habitats of different age which can be assessed by radiocarbon dating of their basal sediment layers. This enables to test a possible effect of habitat age on species composition and species richness. In this study, we examined harpacticoid assemblages in 50 permanent tree-less spring fens (helocrenes) in the Western Carpathians (Slovakia and Czech Republic). In total, 20 harpacticoid species were recorded. Three significant explanatory variables, Ellenberg Indicator Values of plant community for nutrients, in situ measured pH, and average January temperature, explained together 19.0% (adj. 13.7%) of the total variance in the species composition data. The relationships of harpacticoids to these three explanatory variables were species specific and no uniform response of the total assemblage to the environmental variables was found (in terms of total abundance and number of species). The only exception was the influence of overall unfavourable conditions in the mineral-poor acidic Sphagnum-fens. Despite a significant correlation between habitat age and species density we found no clear evidence that any colonisation driven process could influence the number of harpacticoid species within the tested time scale. We hypothesize that rather other habitat characteristics connected with age, i.e. habitat heterogeneity and stability, may be determinant for species richness. The occurrence of some species was clearly geographically limited, but due to the spatial structuring of significant environmental variables no conclusion on dispersal limitations could be made.
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