, Volume 387, Issue 0, pp 39–46 | Cite as

Floodplain biodiversity: why are there so many species?

  • Russell J. Shiel
  • John D. Green
  • Daryl L. Nielsen


Spring surveys of 112 temporary floodplain waters on River Murray tributaries demonstrated a heterogeneous habitat series, with ca. 500 species of microfauna encountered. Rotifers comprised the most diverse group (>250 taxa), however mean diversity was low (10.93 ± 7.5), in part reflecting predation by copepods and macroinvertebrates. Notably, only 10 rotifer species could be considered widespread in the study area. Ephemeral pool microfaunal communities were distinct from those of adjacent permanent billabongs; their community variability is seen as a function of, or response to, habitat heterogeneity. The significance of high species diversity in ephemeral waters is considered in the context of age of the Murray-Darling Basin, which has persisted in its present location since the breakup of Gondwana, >65 MY BP.

Rotifera floodplain ephemeral waters species diversity habitat partitioning opportunism food webs predation Copepoda 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Russell J. Shiel
    • 1
    • 2
  • John D. Green
  • Daryl L. Nielsen
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.. Co-operative Research Centre for Freshwater Ecology, MDFRCAlburyAustralia
  2. 2.Dept of Biological SciencesUniversity of WaikatoHamiltonNew Zealand

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