Biodiversity in groundwater: a large-scale view


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Publication Date

January 2000


During the past years, important studies have been carried out not only to quantify the species richness of animals at regional or even worldwide scales, but also to explain the causes of species richness within various earth zones. Prominent examples are the huge biodiversity of invertebrates living in the rain forests and the deep sea. The groundwater domain forms an unseen ‘ocean’ beneath our feet, which is documented to extend to a depth of several kilometres, with an enormous historical and spatial continuity. Global documentation of the diversity of groundwater animals (i.e. the study of all animal groups for which enough available information exists) at continental or worldwide scales is scant 1 , 2 . Moreover, our knowledge of the underlying causes for the observed species richness over large groundwater areas is also limited. Two publications by Sket 3 , 4 now redress this deficiency, based on detailed quantitative analysis of the species richness of animals living exclusively in subsurface waters (they are called hypogeans or stygobites).


Ecology, Evolution, Groundwater Faun, Global Biodiversity, Hotspot, Regional, Continental World-Wide Distribution

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