A zoogeographic study of the limnoterrestrial tardigrade fauna on the Faroe islands

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Birna Vár Trygvadóttir *
Reinhard Møbjerg Kristensen
(*) Corresponding Author:
Birna Vár Trygvadóttir | birnat@savn.fo


The Faroe islands (62°N, 7°W) are an archipelago of 18 small islands situated in the northeast Atlantic ocean between Iceland and the Shetland islands. A zoogeographic investigation (2001-2004) of the limnoterrestrial tardigrade fauna of these islands revealed 48 limnoterrestrial species and subspecies and one marine species, of which 29 were new records for the Faroe islands. Among the findings were three species in the recently described genus belonging to the family Eohypsibiidae. A faunistic comparison was also done with Iceland, Svalbard islands, Disko island (Greenland), Greenland (West and East), Scotland, England and with Newfoundland. On the basis of presence/absence data of the tardigrade species from the different countries a cluster analysis was computed, based on Bray-Curtis similarities, and a dendrogram was constructed. The interesting results show that the Faroese tardigrade fauna is mostly similar with Iceland, which could be expected, but more surprising it is also very similar to the tardigrade fauna on Disko island (West Greenland). Several of the reported species exhibit a boreo-alpine disjunction (i.e. species only found in northern latitudes and in high altitudes farther south). These facts could indicate that the tardigrade fauna on the islands is very ancient and could have survived glaciation periods in refuges such as nunataks which occurred on the Faroes during glaciation periods. This study also includes a closer inspection of the altitudinal distribution of the tardigrade species found compared with similar data from Poland.

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