Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Unexpected Crustacean Diversity Discovered in Northern Freshwater Ecosystems

05.03.2012
A new species adds to evidence that subarctic regions with vanishing waters contain unique aquatic animals

Freshwater ecosystems in northern regions are home to significantly more species of water fleas than traditionally thought, adding to evidence that regions with vanishing waters contain unique animal life.

The new information on water fleas -- which are actually tiny crustaceans -- comes from a multi-year, international study that was published Feb. 24 in the journal Zootaxa.

The researchers scoured the globe seeking the creatures and found them inhabiting northern lakes and ponds in locations from Alaska to Russia to Scandinavia.

After analyzing the anatomy and genetic makeup of many different specimens, the team conclusively determined that at least 10 species of the crustaceans existed -- five times as many as thought for much of the last century.

More than half the diversity was found in northern latitudes, where rapid freshwater habitat loss is occurring due to melting permafrost, increased evaporation and other changes tied to climate change.

"It is well known that parts of Alaska and Siberia have suffered a huge reduction in freshwater surface area, with many lakes and ponds disappearing permanently in the past few decades," said Derek J. Taylor, a University at Buffalo biologist and member of the research team. "What we're now finding is that these regions with vanishing waters, while not the most diverse in the world, do contain some unique aquatic animals."

"Some of these subarctic ponds that water fleas inhabit are held up by permafrost, so when this lining of ice melts or cracks, it's like pulling the plug out of a sink," Taylor said. "When you see the crop circle-like skeletons of drained ponds on the tundra you can't help but wonder what animal life has been lost here."

Taylor's colleagues on the study included Eugeniya I. Bekker and Alexey A. Kotov of the A. N. Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution in Moscow.

The research focused on water fleas of the genus Eurycercus, which can reach lengths of about 6 millimeters. The findings add to a body of evidence suggesting that the species diversity of water fleas is greater in northern regions than in the tropics.

This is a counterintuitive concept, as scientists have long supposed that the advance and readvance of ice sheets reduced much of the species diversity in colder climates, Taylor said. However, there is growing evidence that some northern areas remained ice-free and acted as hideouts during the harsh glacial advances.

The researchers not only convincingly documented new species diversity, but identified one likely new species and provided a detailed, formal description of another: Eurycercus beringi.

Like other water fleas, E. beringi is an important source of nutrients for fish and aquatic birds.

The new species -- from Alaska's remote Seward Peninsula -- has unusual anatomical features that force a rewrite of the taxonomy of Eurycercus above the species level. Moreover, the new anatomical details should aid future studies that use preserved body parts of Eurycercus found in lake sediments to reconstruct past ecological conditions.

The discovery of new crustacean species in unexpected places underscores the scope of the ongoing biodiversity crisis for freshwater ecosystems.

The research was supported by the Biodiversity Program of the Presidium of Russian Academy of Sciences, the Russian Science Support Foundation, the Russian Foundation for Basic Research, the Smithsonian Institution Office of Fellowships and the National Science Foundation

Charlotte Hsu | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.buffalo.edu

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Safeguarding sustainability through forest certification mapping
27.06.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

nachricht Dune ecosystem modelling
26.06.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: 3-D scanning with water

3-D shape acquisition using water displacement as the shape sensor for the reconstruction of complex objects

A global team of computer scientists and engineers have developed an innovative technique that more completely reconstructs challenging 3D objects. An ancient...

Im Focus: Manipulating Electron Spins Without Loss of Information

Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.

For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...

Im Focus: The proton precisely weighted

What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.

To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...

Im Focus: On the way to a biological alternative

A bacterial enzyme enables reactions that open up alternatives to key industrial chemical processes

The research team of Prof. Dr. Oliver Einsle at the University of Freiburg's Institute of Biochemistry has long been exploring the functioning of nitrogenase....

Im Focus: The 1 trillion tonne iceberg

Larsen C Ice Shelf rift finally breaks through

A one trillion tonne iceberg - one of the biggest ever recorded -- has calved away from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica, after a rift in the ice,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Closing the Sustainability Circle: Protection of Food with Biobased Materials

21.07.2017 | Event News

»We are bringing Additive Manufacturing to SMEs«

19.07.2017 | Event News

The technology with a feel for feelings

12.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Ultrathin device harvests electricity from human motion

24.07.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Scientists announce the quest for high-index materials

24.07.2017 | Materials Sciences

ADIR Project: Lasers Recover Valuable Materials

24.07.2017 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>