Vicariance, dispersal and scale in the aquatic subterranean fauna of karst regions

  • Culver D
  • Pipan T
  • Schneider K
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1. The causes of distribution patterns of stygobionts (obligate subterranean-dwelling
aquatic species) were examined with special emphasis on vicariance
and dispersal. 2. Dispersal was investigated on the premise that
if migration is important, then migration at small scales should
predict patterns at larger scales. Data on the copepod fauna of epikarst
in Slovenia were especially useful for the study of migration, because
data on habitat occupancy could be collected at scales of individual
drips located metres apart to the scale of individual caves to entire
karst regions. Occupancy of drips in one cave was a remarkably good
predictor of occupancy of caves in a region, although not of the
overall range of a given species. These results were also supported
by occupancy patterns of the general stygobiotic fauna of West Virginia
caves, compared at different scales. 3. Vicariance was investigated
by noting that proximity to marine embayments increases the likelihood
of vicariant speciation. In the {U.S.A.,} only the fauna of the Edwards
Aquifer of Texas has a significant component of marine-derived species.
Differences in shape of the relationship between species number and
number of caves in a county indicated that the marine-derived component
represented an addition to rather than a replacement of the other
stygobiotic species. 4. Thus, we found evidence for the importance
of both vicariance and dispersal. The techniques employed could be
used to study these patterns more generally, as more data become

Author-supplied keywords

  • Biogeography
  • Copepods
  • Dispersal
  • Epikarst
  • Vicariance

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  • David C. Culver

  • Tanja Pipan

  • Katie Schneider

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