The freshwater diaptomid copepod fauna (Crustacea: Copepoda: Diaptomidae) of the Western Ghats of Maharashtra with notes on distribution, species richness and ecology
The diversity of many invertebrate taxa from Western Ghats of Maharashtra remains unknown due to lack of systematic studies. We studied freshwater calanoid copepods from this region, and found eleven species of diaptomid copepods in 180 samples collected from 80 sites in the study area. Most of these are new records for this region. The observed fauna includes Oriental, Gondwanan, Palaearctic and Indian endemic taxa. Locality data for all the observed species, along with notes on some ecological aspects of the sampled sites are provided. Non-parametric estimates of species richness for the region suggested an overall adequacy of sampling effort, and probable missing out of some species from habitats with longer hydroperiod. Hydroperiod, depth, electrical conductivity, altitude, mean annual temperature and latitude largely influenced the distribution of species in the study area. Co-occurrences of species were overall rare but more common in temporary habitats. Assemblages of diaptomid copepods restricted to certain sites were identified. The importance of temporary habitats is discussed in the light of their species richness, faunal composition and the increasing anthropogenic pressures they face.
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