Publication details

Clitellate assemblages of spring fens in Slovakia with a focus on a fen specialist Trichodrilus strandi (Lumbriculidae)



Year of publication 2016
Type Conference abstract
Description In the landscape of the Western Carpathian Mountains places of groundwater discharge can be found, forming rather small and isolated spring wetlands surrounded by woodlands, fields or pastures. Spring wetlands or spring fens are unique and nowadays very rare and threatened habitats with rich fauna and flora. We can recognize four types of fens depending on spring water chemistry: extremely mineral-rich fens with tufa formation, mineral-rich fens without the tufa, mineral-rich Sphagnum fens and mineral-poor Sphagnum fens. The gradient of mineral richness (poor-rich gradient) affects biota of these habitats (e. g. vegetation, molluscs, diatoms, dipteran larvae and also clitellates). Clitellates are a part of permanent fauna in spring fens that is often neglected. Our research revealed a surprisingly high diversity of clitellate fauna in fens typically containing aquatic species (e. g. family Naididae and Lumbriculidae) and also semiaquatic species (e. g. some species of the family Enchytraeidae). Sites with tufa incrustations are apparently not very favourable for these organisms. However, one lumbriculid species, Trichodrilus strandi, seems to be a specialist for this type of spring fens. Its populations reach high and stable abundances in comparison with other species in spring fens. Between 2006 and 2012 we studied clitellate assemblages (aquatic Oligochaeta and leeches) of 47 permanent treeless spring fens in the Slovak part of the Western Carpathian Mountains. In spring and autumn season altogether 188 samples of substrate with aquatic macroinvertebrates were collected at each site at two contrasting mesohabitats (flowing water and standing water). Over 20 000 individuals belonging to 48 taxa and eight families (“Oligochaeta”: Enchytraeidae, Haplotaxidae, Lumbricidae, Lumbriculidae, Naididae, Hirudinida: Erpobdellidae, Glossiphoniidae, Haemopidae) were found. One fifth of the total number of individuals belonged to the species T. strandi that was dominant in tufa-forming fens in most cases. Statistical analyses revealed one complex gradient of changes in substrate quality (amount of organic matter, total organic carbon in substrate) and mineral richness of water (pH, conductivity).
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