Global diversity of spelaeogriphaceans & thermosbaenaceans (Crustacea; Spelaeogriphacea & Thermosbaenacea) in freshwater


Spelaeogriphaceans and thermosbaenaceans are two orders of eyeless, unpigmented peracarid crustaceans represented by very few species from subterranean waters. Spelaeogriphaceans occur only in continental waters, either running or still, in limestone or sandstone caves, or in calcrete aquifers. The four species known are limnic except one occurring in slightly brackish water loosely associated with an endorheic basin. The Thermosbaenacea are primarily marine, with only 18 species recorded in limnic conditions or in brackish inland waters whose salinity does not derive from dilution of seawater. They occur in limestone caves, the interstitial medium associated to alluvial deposits, or in thermo-mineral springs. Spelaeogriphaceans are found on the southern continents, in ancient cratons not affected by sea transgressions at least since the Early Cretaceous, when Gondwana started to break-up. The former integration of these terranes into Gondwana suggests that the penetration of spelaeogriphaceans in continental waters took place previous to the fragmentation of this super continent (starting ca. 140 Ma), and that their current distribution pattern was driven by continental drift. The distribution of the Thermosbaenacea matches precisely the area covered by the ancient Tethys Sea or its coastlines. They are most probably relicts of a once widespread shallow-water marine Tethyan fauna stranded in interstitial or crevicular groundwater during marine regressions.

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This is a contribution to Spanish MEC project CGL2005-02217/ BOS.

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Correspondence to D. Jaume.

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Guest editors: E. V. Balian, C. Lévêque, H. Segers & K. Martens

Freshwater Animal Diversity Assessment

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Jaume, D. Global diversity of spelaeogriphaceans & thermosbaenaceans (Crustacea; Spelaeogriphacea & Thermosbaenacea) in freshwater. Hydrobiologia 595, 219–224 (2008).

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  • Freshwater
  • Global assessment
  • Species richness
  • Peracarida
  • Crustacea