The dark side of springs: what drives small-scale spatial patterns of subsurface meiofaunal assemblages?

Submitted: 30 July 2013
Accepted: 19 October 2013
Published: 13 February 2014
Abstract Views: 3777
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Springs are amongst the most relevant Groundwater Dependent Ecosystems (GDEs) and are key research environments in freshwater ecology and biology. The strict dependency on ground water of surface spring biodiversity is well known, whereas the biodiversity occurring below the spring is very poorly known. This study analyzes copepod assemblages in the subsurface habitat of a karstic rheo-limnocrenic spring in relation to seventeen environmental parameters. Subsurface copepod assemblages were sensitive to microspatial variation in habitat structure, and species distributions were mostly driven by groundwater flowpath and substratum type, resulting in biologically distinct limnocrenic and rheocrenic sectors at the spring system scale. Habitat patchiness was reflected in differences in the microdistribution of subsurface copepods, stygobiotic assemblages being more sensitive to the measured environmental gradients than non-stygobiotic ones. In spite of the apparent stability of spring environments, copepods, as a target group, performed well as descriptors of sediment texture and hydrodynamics, and may offer relevant information for a better understanding of the potential changes generated by anthropogenic disturbance on these ecosystems.

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Supporting Agencies

European Community (Life plus project AQUALIFE) and by the Gran Sasso – Laga National Park (Italy), French National Research Agency ‘InBioProcess’ project (ANR-06-BDIV-007-InBioProcess 2007-2010).
Barbara Fiasca, University of L’Aquila

Department of Life, Health & Environmental Sciences

Fabio Stoch, University of L’Aquila

Department of Life, Health & Environmental Sciences

Marie-Josè Olivier, Université Lyon 1
Laboratoire d'Ecologie des Hydrosystèmes Fluviaux
Chafik Maazouzi, Université Lyon 1

Laboratoire d'Ecologie des Hydrosystèmes Fluviaux

Marco Petitta, University “La Sapienza

Department of Earth Sciences

Alessia Di Cioccio, University of L’Aquila

Department of Life, Health & Environmental Sciences

Diana M.P. Galassi, University of L'Aquila

Department of Life, Health & Environmental Sciences

How to Cite

Fiasca, Barbara, Fabio Stoch, Marie-Josè Olivier, Chafik Maazouzi, Marco Petitta, Alessia Di Cioccio, and Diana M.P. Galassi. 2014. “The Dark Side of Springs: What Drives Small-Scale Spatial Patterns of Subsurface Meiofaunal Assemblages?”. Journal of Limnology 73 (1). https://doi.org/10.4081/jlimnol.2014.848.

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