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Revista de Biología Tropical

On-line version ISSN 0034-7744Print version ISSN 0034-7744


ECHEVERRIA GALINDO, Paula Gabriela et al. Tropical freshwater ostracodes as environmental indicators across an altitude gradient in Guatemala and Mexico. Rev. biol. trop [online]. 2019, vol.67, n.4, pp.1037-1058. ISSN 0034-7744.

Detailed knowledge of species ecological preferences and robust taxonomy of paleobioindicators are prerequisites for accurate paleoclimate and paleoenvironmental studies. This study aims to expand the knowledge of modern, Neotropical freshwater ostracode fauna, across an altitudinal gradient from the karst lakes in the lowlands of El Petén, Guatemala (100-500 m.a.s.l.), to the mid-elevation lakes of the Lacandón forest (500-1 000 m.a.s.l.), to the higher-altitude lakes of Montebello, Chiapas, Mexico (1 000-1 500 m.a.s.l.). Eighteen ostracode species were identified in 24 lakes. Ostracodes were absent in Lakes Amarillo and Lacandón (mid-altitude), and San Diego (lowlands); probably explained by a structural difference of habitats and species interactions. Statistical analysis indicated that the most abundant species, Cypridopsis vidua (O.F. Müller, 1776), Cytheridella ilosvayi (Daday, 1905), Pseudocandona antillana (Broodbakker, 1983), and Darwinula stevensoni (Brady & Robertson, 1870) have a continuous distribution along the entire altitudinal gradient. Some species display more restricted distributions, determined by temperature, precipitation and conductivity. For example, Eucypris sp. is restricted to the lowlands, Vestalenula sp. and Cypria sp. were found only at middle elevations. Species diversity is slightly greater in lakes at middle altitudes (Haverage = 1.09) than in water bodies in the lowlands (Haverage = 0.94) and in cooler lakes in the highlands (Haverage = 0.94), suggesting that mid-elevation lakes have a high potential for harboring microrefugia. Locally weighted scatterplot smoothing (LOESS regressions) provided ecological preference information for the four most frequent and widely distributed species, with respect to temperature, conductivity, bicarbonate (HCO3 -) concentration, precipitation, and pH. Darwinula stevensoni suggest an association more to cooler temperatures and lower conductivities proving its high tolerance range. Cypridopsis vidua is associated with warm and low-rainfall environments, such as recorded in the lowlands of Guatemala, and can be used as a paleobioindicator of vegetated littoral zones, because we found it always associated to this section of lakes. Cytheridella ilosvayi show preferences for warm and humid conditions, whereas P. antillana prefer colder and humid environments. Such quantitative-ecological information will improve ostracode-based paleoenvironmental reconstructions in Southern Mexico and Northern Guatemala. In addition, our approach serves as a model for future paleoecological studies that employ other aquatic bioindicators, such as testate amoebae, cladocerans, and chironomids.

Keywords : non-marine ostracodes; diversity; ecology; Neotropics.

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