In our recently published study in Molecular Ecology, Emanuel A. Fronhofer, Florian Altermatt, and me analyzed empirically observed genetic diversity of Gammarus fossarum metapopulations across the Rhine drainage area within Switzerland. We used microsatellite data and stochastic simulations to study the role of dispersal behaviour on observed genetic diversity. Allelic richness and observed heterozygosity were higher in more central nodes, unlike expected heterozygosity. Stochastic simulations suggest upstream movement probability and dispersal rate to be key factors explaining this finding. The study is open access. A huge thank you to Anja Westram and Jukka Jokela for support early on during analysis and providing data.
Thanks to the collaboration with many water well managers, Nicole Bongni was able to describe a previously undocumented biological diversity in groundwater in her master’s thesis. The focus was on amphipods, in particular the genus Niphargus. Among the discoveries was a completely new species, which we have now described scientifically in Subterranean Biology. The name of the new species: Niphargus arolaensis, the Aare groundwater amphipod. The name is derived from the fact that we have only been able to detect the species at three sites in the Aare River basin. This research shows that we still understand the groundwater habitat far too poorly and therefore cannot protect it adequately. Thanks to the project AmphiWell we can continue basic research on this topic.
It is an ambassador for healthy and diverse streams. Where it occurs in large numbers, the stream is healthy. Being named animal of the year, Gammarus fossarum is also a tribute to the countless small, inconspicuous organisms that keep freshwater ecosystems functioning in the first place. More information about the animal of the year can be found on the Pro Natura webpage (in German).
A first version of the online identification key for amphipods of Switzerland is now available on: https://lepus.unine.ch/infofauna-key/amphipoda. Feel free to test it, use it and spread the word. We are happy to hear your feedback or get bugs and issues reported.