, Volume 593, Issue 1, pp 39–47 | Cite as

How well do single samples reflect rotifer species diversity? A test based on interannual variation of rotifer communities in Big Bend National Park (Texas, USA)

  • E. J. Walsh
  • T. Schröder
  • M. L. Arroyo
  • R. L. Wallace
Advances in Rotifer Research


Studies of rotifer community composition and dynamics often rely on limited sampling regimes. To determine how well species richness is reflected in these studies, we examined interannual variation of rotifer species richness and monogonont community structure from 10 aquatic systems comprising four habitat types—springs, rock pools (tinajas), former cattle tanks, and artificial ponds—in Big Bend National Park (Texas, USA). Planktonic, littoral, and benthic samples were collected from all sites at about the same date for each of five summers (2001–2005). Our survey yielded 15 monogonont families including 30 genera and 84 species. Two bdelloid taxa also were designated. Species richness varied widely among these four habitats: range, 1–32; mean (±1 SD), 11.2 ± 8.0. Total Species richness in the habitats also varied considerably: springs (54 taxa) > artificial ponds (35 taxa) > tinajas (19 taxa)  > cattle tanks (15 taxa). Sessile species comprised ≈13% of the taxa in our samples. Species turnover indices (STI) of these systems indicate low overall relatedness: mean (±1 S.D.) = 85.2 ± 7.1%. The relative frequency of encounter of most taxa in the four systems was low, with 79 taxa (≈92%) having values ≤2.0%. Singleton rates were quite high, ranging from 46.7 to 71.4%, with an overall mean ≈65.1%. Most importantly, we found that both species richness and STI varied considerably among habitat type. Species richness varied by 2–10× between consecutive years and STI ranged from 64 to 89% over the entire study. Our results indicate that rotifer community composition fluctuates greatly over time, and that rotifer community structure may be more labile than is generally believed. Species richness and thus biodiversity may be dramatically underestimated using single sampling or short-term strategies that are often employed in studies of zooplankton community structure.


Biodiversity Chihuahuan Desert Index of faunal originality Invertebrate Relative frequency of encounter Singleton rate Species turnover index Sørensen index 



We offer our sincere thanks to C. Purchase, R. Skiles, and the staff of BBNP; this research was carried out under BBNP permits BIBE-2001-SCI-0058 and BIBE-2001-SCI-0012. Invaluable field and laboratory assistance was provided D. L. Leeming, O. Moldes, J. and B. Newlin, C. Ordonez, J. Remirez, J.V. Rios-Arana, M. Salazar, M. Sigla Arana, P.L. Starkweather, N. Lannutti, R. Guerrero, M. Voss, and T. Enriquez. We thank Jolanta Ejsmont-Karabin for providing the comprehensive data on the rotifer fauna from the Great Masurian lakes (Poland). Hilary A. Smith assisted in calculating the relative frequency of encounter and IFO values and offered constructive comments on the manuscript. We also thank Koen Martens and two anonymous reviewers for their comments on the manuscript. This material is based upon work partially supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0516032, T & E, Inc., the Graduate School of UTEP, Funds for Faculty Development (Ripon College), NSF Advance #0245071 (UTEP) and grants from T.O.P. to EJW and RLW.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • E. J. Walsh
    • 1
  • T. Schröder
    • 1
  • M. L. Arroyo
    • 1
  • R. L. Wallace
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesUniversity of Texas at El PasoEl PasoUSA
  2. 2.Department of BiologyRipon CollegeRiponUSA

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