The Chilean north Patagonian inland waters are characterized by their low mineral concentrations. In their original status, many of these ecosystems have native vegetation in their surrounding drainage basins, but in the last decades the native vegetation was replaced by agricultural, urban, and industrial zones, with as a result of these human alterations that those aquatic communities changed. The aim of the present study was to make a literature review about the ecological role of crustaceans in Chilean north Patagonian lakes and rivers. The literature mentioned the presence of amphipods (Hyalella), crayfishes (Samastacus spinifrons), and freshwater crabs (genus Aegla), and many of these species hold a conservation risk due to the consequences of habitat damage and/or their high endemism. These crustaceans are important for the degradation of particulate organic matter originating from the surrounding vegetation, and are prey for native and introduced salmonid fishes. Similar patterns had already been observed for Argentinean Patagonian rivers.
The Cautin river is located in the Araucania region, Chile (38°S), and is characterized by alterations through human interference in its surrounding basin, by the presence of introduced salmonids, and by its mixed regime, which originates from melting snow in summer and rains in winter. The fauna of this river includes an invertebrate fauna composed of both endemic and widespread species, which has, however, been only poorly studied until now. The aim of the present study was to make a review of the ecological role of the benthic inland water crustaceans of the River Cautin, in order to understand their importance in the ecosystem of the river. The literature revealed the presence of abundant populations of amphipods and freshwater crabs as well as of aquatic insects along the river’s course. Many of these crustaceans are prey for both introduced salmonids and native fishes. Similar results have been reported for other southern Argentinean and Chilean Patagonian rivers.
ABSTRACT. The Chilean inland water crustaceans are characterized by a combination of endemic and cosmopolitan species: some occur throughout the territory of continental Chile, while others are restricted to specific latitudinal regions. This study examined the zoogeographical patterns exhibited by Chilean inland water crustaceans. We considered six regions: Northern Chile (18º-27°S), North-Central Chile (27º-30°S), Central Chile (30º-38°S), Northern Patagonia (38°-41°S), Central Patagonia (41º-51°S), and Southern Patagonia (51º-55°S), and these were identified based on literature records of inland water crustaceans. The classification analysis generated dendrograms for the following groups considered in this categories: all inland water crustaceans (Branchiopoda, Copepoda and Malacostraca), the zooplanktonic crustaceans (Branchiopoda and Copepoda), the Malacostraca alone, and each group separately. Analysis of total data and of the zooplankton group taxa alone revealed the existence of a main grouping consisting of the three Patagonian zones plus Central Chile, that is distinct from that of Northern Chile and North-Central Chile. Similarly, analysis of the malacostracan data revealed the existence of two main groups, one comprising the three Patagonian zones plus Central Chile, contrasted with a second group of Northern and North-Central Chile combined. Our results are in agreement with other panbiogeographical studies of South American crustaceans and insects. Possible factors responsible for generating this pattern are the dispersal and colonization potential of zooplanktonic crustaceans and the marked endemism of the malacostracans.
Distributional patterns of the South American species of the freshwater amphipod genus Hyalella were analysed using a panbiogeographic approach. Five generalized tracks were found: (1) northern Andes to Lake Titicaca (H.
The Chilean saline lakes are distributed mainly in the Atacama desert in northern Chile and the southern Patagonian plains. The scarce studies are restricted mainly to northern Chilean saline lakes, and these revealed that the main component in these ecosystems are the halophylic copepod Boeckella poopoensis Marsh 1906, or the brine shrimp Artemia franciscana (Kellog, 1906), and both species do not coexist. The present study consisted of field observations in zooplankton assemblages in southern Chilean saline lakes (51-53 ºS). These first observations revealed three different patterns, one saline lake only with A. persimilis (Piccinelli and Prosdocimi, 1968), a second lake only with B. poopensis, and a third lake with A. persimilis, B. poopoensis and unidentified harpacticoid copepod. These results are different in comparison with the observations in the literature that described the non-coexistence between B. poopoensis with brine shrimps. Ecological and biogeographical topics were discussed.
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