Global diversity of ostracods (Ostracoda, Crustacea) in freshwater


There are close to 2,000 subjective species and about 200 genera of Recent non-marine Ostracoda. Together, Cyprididae (1,000 spp.) and Candonidae (c. 550 spp.) represent more than 75% of the extant specific diversity; the remaining 11 families comprise the other 25% of the species. The Palaearctic region has the highest absolute non-marine ostracod diversity, followed by the Afrotropical. The Australian region has the highest relative endemicity. About 90% of the species and 60% of the genera occur in one zoogeographical region only. This means that all the biological mechanisms which lead up to efficient dispersal and which are present in at least part of the non-marine Ostracoda (e.g. brooding, drought-resistant eggs, parthenogenesis) have not induced common cosmopolitan distributions in ostracods. Several habitats are hotspots for ostracod diversity and endemicity. For example, it appears that the ancient lakes hold up to 25% of the total ostracod diversity. Other speciation-prone habitats are groundwater, temporary pools and Australian salt lakes; in the latter two instances, cladogenesis has often been paralleled by gigantism. The present ostracod diversity results from 9 to 12 separate invasions of the non-marine habitat, starting about 400 Myr ago. Genetic diversity can be very different in different species, mostly, but not always, related to reproductive mode.

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Karel Wouters, Hendrik Segers and Estelle Balian (Brussels) suggested improvements on an earlier version of the manuscript. Funding for the present research was received from the Belgian Science Policy (Agreement ‘freshwater biodiversity’), the Fonds voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek, Vlaanderen (project “Ecological biogeography of freshwater rockpool communities”; coordinator: L. Brendonck, K.U.Leuven) and the EU (RTN Marie Curie Project ‘Sexasex’, coordinator KM).

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Correspondence to Koen Martens.

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

Freshwater Animal Diversity Assessment

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Martens, K., Schön, I., Meisch, C. et al. Global diversity of ostracods (Ostracoda, Crustacea) in freshwater. Hydrobiologia 595, 185–193 (2008).

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  • Ostracoda
  • Freshwater
  • Species
  • Genera
  • Ancient lakes