Desiccation risk favours prevalence and diversity of tardigrade communities and influences their trophic structure in alpine ephemeral rock pools
Vecchi, M., Ferrari, C., Stec, D., & Calhim, S. (2022). Desiccation risk favours prevalence and diversity of tardigrade communities and influences their trophic structure in alpine ephemeral rock pools. Hydrobiologia, 849(9), 1995-2007. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10750-022-04820-0
© 2022 the Authors
Rock pools are ephemeral freshwater habitats characterized by their small size, well-defined boundaries, and periodic desiccation, making them ideal model systems to answer numerous ecological questions. Although there are numerous studies on rock pool fauna around the world, tardigrades have only rarely been recorded. We conducted the first tardigrade-focused study on rock pools by quantitatively extracting and classifying them from rock pools in the Italian Apennines. Rock pools were divided into three types, based on maximum duration of their inundation period. Following the patterns usually observed with rock pool invertebrates, we tested the hypothesis that desiccation has a negative effect on prevalence, abundance, and diversity of tardigrades, and thus could alter the trophic structure of their communities. In contrast to what is commonly found for other animal groups in the same type of habitat, we found that tardigrades were more diverse and prevalent in shallower, more desiccation prone, rock pools. Moreover, the trophic structure of tardigrade communities was different among the different pool types. Lastly, we also provide DNA barcodes of the most commonly found taxa. Ultimately, our study demonstrates that tardigrade communities in rock pools provide a valuable model system for the study of abiotic factors influencing meiofauna communities. ...
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Related funder(s)Academy of Finland
Funding program(s)Research costs of Academy Research Fellow, AoF
Additional information about fundingOpen Access funding provided by University of Jyväskylä (JYU). The study was supported by the Academy of Finland (Fellowship #314219 to SC) and by the Preludium programme of the Polish National Science Centre (Grant No. 2018/31/N/NZ8/03096 to DS).
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