Amphipods are brooding peracaridan crustaceans whose young undergo direct development, with no independent larval dispersal stage. Most species are epibenthic, benthic, or subterranean. There are some 1,870 amphipod species and subspecies recognized from fresh or inland waters worldwide at the end of 2005. This accounts for 20% of the total known amphipod diversity. The actual diversity may still be several-fold. Amphipods are most abundant in cool and temperate environments; they are particularly diversified in subterranean environments and in running waters (fragmented habitats), and in temperate ancient lakes, but are notably rare in the tropics. Of the described freshwater taxa 70% are Palearctic, 13% Nearctic, 7% Neotropical, 6% Australasian and 3% Afrotropical. Approximately 45% of the taxa are subterranean; subterranean diversity is highest in the karst landscapes of Central and Southern Europe (e.g., Niphargidae), North America (Crangonyctidae), and Australia (Paramelitidae). The majority of Palearctic epigean amphipods are in the superfamily Gammaroidea, whereas talitroid amphipods (Hyalella) account for all Neotropic and much of the Nearctic epigean fauna. Major concentrations of endemic species diversity occur in Southern Europe, Lake Baikal, the Ponto-Caspian basin, Southern Australia (including Tasmania), and the south-eastern USA. Endemic family diversity is similarly centered in the Western Palearctic and Lake Baikal. Freshwater amphipods are greatly polyphyletic, continental invasions have taken place repeatedly in different time frames and regions of the world. In the recent decades, human mediated invasions of Ponto-Caspian amphipods have had great impacts on European fluvial ecosystems.
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We thank all those who answered our queries, including J. Holsinger, H. Morino, G. Fenwick, and R. Kamaltynov. We are particularly grateful to W. Vader and C. Fišer for their contributions in compiling the data available at their websites. Partial support was provided by a grant from the University of Helsinki Research Funds.
Guest editors: E. V. Balian, C. Lévêque, H. Segers and K. Martens
Freshwater Animal Diversity Assessment
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Väinölä, R., Witt, J.D.S., Grabowski, M. et al. Global diversity of amphipods (Amphipoda; Crustacea) in freshwater. Hydrobiologia 595, 241–255 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10750-007-9020-6
- Continental invasions
- Species diversity