, Volume 145, Issue 1, pp 5–17 | Cite as

The taxonomy and biogeography of the Cladocera

  • David G. Frey
Taxonomy & Systematics


For a variety of reasons, including the analysis of a number of taxa having the same names on different continents, we have concluded overwhelmingly that the chydorid Cladocera are not cosmopolitan in distribution but instead are restricted to smaller regions by their specific ecological requirements for habitat type and also by long-term events in earth history. Recent study ofChydorus faviformis and species resembling it indicates there has been no effective exchange of genetic material between North America and South America, nor between Australia and Asia, nor even between China, Malaysia, and India in southern Asia. Moreover, the patterns of distribution are even narrower than this, as in North America, for example, taxa having the same names in the southern states as in the northern states are differentiated at the species level in some instances, possibly in most. Southern species push northward along the Atlantic Coast for varying distances, one species having reached Nova Scotia and Newfoundland probably during the warm interval in mid-Postglacial time. Thus, when species are studied closely to define their morphological limits, cosmopolitanism disappears, and patterns of distribution emerge that are very similar to those of other animals and plants.

The ‘species’ that have been claimed to be cosmopolitan are being shown to be groups or complexes of morphologically similar species instead, each member species of which has a much more restricted distribution than the group or complex as a whole. To explain how the different continents can have such similar lists of ‘species’ without intercontinental dispersal of resting eggs occurring almost continuously, we are suggesting plate tectonics and the drifting of continents, either apart or together.


Chydoridae cosmopolitanism species groups vicariance 


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Copyright information

© Dr W. Junk Publishers 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • David G. Frey
    • 1
  1. 1.Indiana UniversityBloomington

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