, Volume 287, Issue 1, pp 147-156

First online:

Distribution patterns of interstitial freshwater meiofauna over a range of spatial scales, with emphasis on alluvial river-aquifer systems

  • J. V. WardAffiliated withDepartment of Biology, Colorado State University
  • , M. A. PalmerAffiliated withDepartment of Zoology, University of Maryland

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Spatial distribution patterns of the interstitial meiobenthos are examined across a range of scales. A global interstitial highway model is presented with the alluvial aquifer system as its central core. Spatially discontinuous hypogean entities, such as karstic aquifers, springs, anchialine waters and the psammolittoral, have limited interconnections except through the alluvial aquifer system and are contiguous with epigean waters. The global interstitial highway is viewed as an evolutionary pathway and long-term dispersal route for meiobenthic forms. The distribution of interstitial animals in alluvial river-aquifer systems is examined at longitudinal (altitudinal), reach, floodplain, gravel bar, and vertical (depth) scales. Geomorphic and hydrogeologic features and interactions emerge as major determinants of the spatially heterogeneous nature of alluvial aquifers that structure the patchy distribution patterns of hypogean fauna across a range of scales.

Key words

meiofauna biogeography interstitial