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Conservation status of the inland aquatic crustaceans in the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico: shortcomings of a protection strategy

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ABSTRACT

  1. The Yucatan Peninsula (YP), Mexico, is a large karstic Neotropical system hosting a highly diverse crustacean fauna related to epigean and subterranean aquatic habitats. There are more than 40 hypogean endemic species, thus qualifying as a subterranean biodiversity hotspot.
  2. In view of the relevance of both the YP karstic aquifer and its related crustacean fauna, the spatial distribution of 212 species from 1165 geo-referenced records of the inland aquatic crustaceans were analysed in relation to the geographic coverage of protected natural areas (PNAs) of the YP. The data analysed were obtained from sources including the authors' own observations, published literature, and institutional and government databases.
  3. The YP is an area with ​​a high biodiversity of continental crustaceans and is also an important area of endemism worldwide. However, most of the crustacean fauna is at risk. Only 18.5% of the crustacean species recorded in the YP and only 3.2% of the endemic forms are distributed within the limits of a protected area. In addition, only five of the 48 endemic species are listed in the Mexican Official Standard (NOM-059-2010) and none of them occurs in a protected area.
  4. The groups with the highest endemism are the Remipedia and Ostracoda, each with two known YP endemic species. Peracarids are also highly endemic in the YP (62%), followed by Copepoda (27%), Decapoda (18%), and Branchiopoda (1.5%).
  5. Currently, the areas of most concern, owing to high tourist pressures, are the ‘Corridor Tulum - Puerto Morelos’ and the ‘Ring of Cenotes’, both having significant numbers of endemic forms. A revision of the PNAs' management programmes to incorporate aquatic ecosystems and biota, the expansion of selected PNAs to provide protection to critical unprotected areas, and increased research activities focused on the aquatic fauna are recommended actions.

Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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