Original paper

Using habitat heterogeneity to assess stygobiotic species richness in the French Jura region with a conservation perspective

Castellarini, Fabiana; Dole-Olivier, Marie-José Malard; Gibert, Janine


Ground waters have been recognized as a world natural heritage. Despite this, knowledge of stygobiotic assemblages (obligate groundwater communities) is still limited. A new sampling program allowed us to obtain information about the community structure of stygobionts in the Jura mountains (France). We collected 247 samples by stratified sampling across the entire spectrum of the groundwater habitats. Heterogeneity among samples due to habitat differences strongly determines the structure of stygobiotic assemblages, with 52 % of rare species related to either habitat-specificity or endemism. Species accumulation curves increased steadily without reaching an asymptote. As larger areas were incorporated, nested curves became steeper. We therefore applied extrapolation techniques to estimate total species richness, which was as high as 200 species for the region. Use of the complete spectrum of groundwater habitats for the assessment of species richness provides a useful guide for decision makers in the framework of the European Habitat Directive by which protection of species can be realized through protection of their habitats.


ground waterheterogeneityrare speciesspecies richnessconservation