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Historical biogeography and distribution of the freshwater cyclopine copepods (Copepoda, Cyclopoida, Cyclopinae) of the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico

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Abstract Aim 

To determine and analyse the distribution of the freshwater cyclopine copepod fauna of the Yucatan Peninsula (YP) and its relationship with the geological and climatic history of this Neotropical karstic zone. Location 

The Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico. Methods 

Plotting of georeferenced sites, analysis of local and regional geological and climatic history, analysis and comparison of regional and local faunistic records. Results 

Distinct dispersal and/or vicariant processes seem to be linked to the current distributions of the seven genera known in the YP. In general, the endemic hypogean or benthic crevicular forms (i.e. Diacyclops chakan, D. puuc and Mesocyclops chaci), derived from epigean, tropical, widely distributed forms (some of them South American) may have been among the earliest colonizers of the subterranean habitats in the YP. The distribution of these and other endemic forms seem to be related to the Holocene dry periods that desiccated the largest bodies of water and isolated local populations of different species. These vicariant processes resulted in forms with restricted distributional areas; some of these formed sister species that speciated in geographically close localities but related to a common identifiable ancestor. Overall, the processes of cyclopine colonization of the YP show the influence of the South American fauna, as the closest relatives of some species endemic to the YP are South American forms; the Nearctic influence is low. The cyclopine fauna of the YP is formed by a mixture of Nearctic-derived (species of Acanthocyclops), Neotropical (i.e. M. edax, M. longisetus, A. panamensis, Thermocyclops inversus and T. tenuis), and epigean and hypogean endemic forms. The highly dynamic geomorphology of the YP and the recent climatic changes in the Holocene define the YP as a peculiar subregion that harbours a diverse fauna of cyclopine copepods with a high endemism. Main conclusion 

The current distribution of cyclopine copepods reflects relatively recent, post-Pliocene biogeographical patterns; probably older patterns are involved as well. The eastern coast of the Yucatan is the most recently colonized by cyclopine copepods. Most of the genera are linked with South American forms, and the Nearctic influence is weakly represented. This group has no marine relatives, but there is evidence of vicariant events involving cave-dwelling forms.

Keywords: Limnology; distributional patters; freshwater biogeography; karstic environments; zooplankton

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Virginia Museum of Natural History, Martinsville, VA, USA 2: Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, Invertebrate Section, Brussels, Belgium 3: Department of Marine Biology, Texas A&M University at Galveston, Galveston, TX, USA

Publication date: July 1, 2004


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