Aquatic Ecology

, Volume 43, Issue 2, pp 235–248 | Cite as

Life at the extreme: meiofauna from three unexplored lakes in the caldera of the Cerro Azul volcano, Galápagos Islands, Ecuador

  • Daniel MuschiolEmail author
  • Walter Traunspurger


On Isla Isabela, Galápagos Archipelago, three so far unexplored lakes were investigated in the caldera of Cerro Azul, one of the most active volcanoes in the world. The lakes face recurrent desiccation and eruption events and showed distinct differences in their water chemistry. Thirty cores from the upper 15 cm of sediment indicate distinct differences in the composition of meiobenthic communities between the lakes. In total, 27 different aquatic metazoan species could be distinguished. Numerically, rotifers dominated in two of the lakes, with mean densities up to 4.56 × 106 individuals m−2 while the third lake was dominated by a gastrotrich of the genus Chaetonotus (0.67 × 106 individuals m−2). The largest lake harboured up to 14.4 × 106 nematodes m−2, which is the highest nematode density thus far reported for a freshwater habitat. The lakes yielded few nematode species (S = 7, N = 887) and calculation of the Shannon–Wiener index (H′) indicated an exceptionally low nematode diversity. The nematode community of one lake was clearly dominated by an undescribed suction-feeding Mesodorylaimus (59.6%), the community of the other lake by the epistrate feeder Achromadora pseudomicoletzkyi (89.3%), whereas the third lake surprisingly contained no nematodes. The benthic nematode biomasses for the two nematode-containing lakes differed by a factor 50. The food webs of the three lakes are presumed to have an exceptionable simply structure.


Abundance Biomass Meiobenthos Nematodes Species diversity Volcanic lakes 



Work in the field was accomplished with the kind permission of the Galápagos National Park. Preparation for the collecting trip and the later work in the laboratory were kindly supported by the CDRS, with special thanks to Ana Mireya Guerrero, Jorge Luis Rentería and Dr. Alan Tye. Many thanks to the wonderful Galápagos crew, especially Thomas Bartolomaeus. The following persons kindly helped with the taxonomic determination of the various meiobenthic groups: Anton Brancelj (Cladocera), Ralf Deichsel (Acari), Anno Faubel (Platyhelminthes), Diana Galassi (Copepoda), Reinhard Gerecke (Acari), Alexander Kieneke (Gastrotricha), Peter Martin (Acari), Claude Meisch (Ostracoda), Nicola Reiff (Diptera), Helmut Rogg (Coleoptera, Heteroptera and Odonata), Heinrich Schatz (Acari), Tarmo Timm (Annelida) and Aldo Zullini (Nematoda). Lars Peters, Jenny M. Schmidt-Araya and three anonymous reviewers made valuable comments on earlier versions of the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Animal EcologyUniversity BielefeldBielefeldGermany

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