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Environmental features and crustacean community of anchihaline hypogean waters on the Kornati islands, Croatia


Sanja Gottstein, Department of Zoology, Faculty of Science, University of Zagreb, Rooseveltov trg 6, 10000 Zagreb, Croatia.


This paper reports on new distribution records of groundwater crustaceans for anchihaline habitats of the Kornati islands and presents observations on the frequency of the crustacean community. Research was conducted during September 2001 and 2003 in nine caves and two wells. Based on literature data and own research, a total of 33 crustacean taxa were determined, distributed in seven orders, 11 families and 15 genera. Our collections include four copepod species recorded for the first time for the Kornati islands, of which one species was also new for Croatia. Stygobiotic species make up 45% of the total crustacean fauna recorded at the researched localities. Most of the anchihaline crustaceans studied here are members of the order Cyclopoida. The most widespread species was Niphargus hebereri and the richest genus was Diacyclops. Vertical salinity gradients determine spatial distribution patterns of stygobiont crustaceans. The species richness of crustaceans here is strongly dependent on habitat morphology as well as on abiotic factors (e.g. salinity) and food supply. Crustacean diversity was higher in caves with steep salinity gradient. Records of crustacean species are listed with notes on their patterns of coexistence.