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Do active‐dispersing insects dominate the invertebrate fauna of rock pools in the wet–dry tropics, Kimberley, Australia?

Carey, N., Cross, A.T., Barrett, M.D. and Robson, B.J. (2019) Do active‐dispersing insects dominate the invertebrate fauna of rock pools in the wet–dry tropics, Kimberley, Australia? Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems, 29 (8). pp. 1175-1189.

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1. Invertebrate assemblages of tropical freshwater rock pools (FRPs) are poorly known compared with temperate regions, where FRPs contain specialized, endemic taxa of high conservation value. Invertebrates were sampled from pristine FRPs in the Morgan River catchment in the Australian wet-dry tropics in the 2015 and 2016 wet seasons. Taxa were classified as either active or passive dispersers and by functional feeding groups. A range of physical variables were examined to identify associations with invertebrate assemblages.

2. Forty-seven taxa were identified from FRPs; most were actively dispersing predatory insects, primarily Coleoptera and Hemiptera. Five adult insect species were found in most pools; other taxa were rare and scattered across FRPs. Two previously undescribed species of Spinicaudata were collected, but few crustacean taxa were recorded, and passively dispersing taxa were rare. Species accumulation curves indicated that had more pools been sampled, more taxa would have been collected in 2015, but in 2016 most species were collected.

3. There was no pattern in FRP assemblages related to any physical variable, but the assemblages in pools were correlated between sampling times. An opportunistic and mobile assemblage composed mostly of actively dispersing predatory insects may explain the absence of relationships with measured variables. Low hydrological stability in the wet-dry tropics may be associated with low taxon richness.

4. The dominance of actively dispersing insects is in contrast with FRP assemblages in temperate and arid regions. Studies of a wider range of FRPs from tropical regions are required to determine whether the fauna of these Kimberley FRPs are typical, and to fully describe short-range endemic species across the Kimberley and elsewhere.

5. The FRPs have conservation value as habitat for endemic, specialist rock-pool taxa, contributing to regional species pools. At present, a lack of knowledge of endemic FRP specialist species in tropical regions, including the Kimberley, impedes our ability to protect and conserve these species from disturbance.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Environmental and Conservation Sciences
Publisher: Wiley
Copyright: © 2019 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
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