Journal Article

Patterns of macroinvertebrate and fish diversity in freshwater sulphide springs

Greenway, R., Arias-Rodriguez, L., Diaz, P. and Tobler, M.

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Abstract: Extreme environments are characterised by the presence of physicochemical stressors and provide unique study systems to address problems in evolutionary ecology research. Sulphide springs provide an example of extreme freshwater environments; because hydrogen sulphide’s adverse physiological effects induce mortality in metazoans even at micromolar concentrations. Sulphide springs occur worldwide, but while microbial communities in sulphide springs have received broad attention, little is known about macroinvertebrates and fish inhabiting these toxic environments. We reviewed qualitative occurrence records of sulphide spring faunas on a global scale and present a quantitative case study comparing diversity patterns in sulphidic and adjacent non-sulphidic habitats across replicated river drainages in Southern Mexico. While detailed studies in most regions of the world remain scarce, available data suggests that sulphide spring faunas are characterised by low species richness. Dipterans (among macroinvertebrates) and cyprinodontiforms (among fishes) appear to dominate the communities in these habitats. At least in fish, there is evidence for the presence of highly endemic species and populations exclusively inhabiting sulphide springs. We provide a detailed discussion of traits that might predispose certain taxonomic groups to colonize sulphide springs, how colonizers subsequently adapt to cope with sulphide toxicity, and how adaptation may be linked to speciation processes. Keywords: adaptation; biodiversity; cyprinodontiformes; diptera; ecological speciation; endemism; evolution; extreme environments; hydrogen sulphide; poeciliidae
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