Our most recent paper in Systematics and Biodiversity reveals three new and endemic species of Niphargus in Switzerland. We describe them from the Hölloch cave system in central Switzerland, with no further findings known so far. The paper updates the current knowledge of amphipoda in Switzerland, specifically for the genus of Niphargus.
A fruitful collaboration
Thanks to the collaboration with the caving society of the Hölloch we could retrieve the exciting samples. It was also them who provided the names given to the new species. Without their knowledge about the gigantic cave system we would not have been able to publish these results.
In our most recent paper, Florian Altermatt, Cene Fišer, and me describe a new amphipod species that is endemic to the Alps. What has been considered to belong to the circumboreal Gammarus lacustris species complex turned out to be a highly diverged lineage. It represents an own species within the Alps. Given its natural but restricted distribution, we name the endemic amphipod species Gammarus alpinussp. nov.
The species is commonly found in high alpine lakes of Central Europe. Although its wide distribution, invasive species and increasing anthropogenic pressure in its natural habitat impose challenges to the newly described species. Assigning a name to this biological entity hopefully facilitates the conservation efforts. Our study is published in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society. It highlights the importance of combining different methods to resolve cryptic diversity. Furthermore I would hereby like to acknowledge all the people and institutions that helped to conduct this study.
Our study on chironomids of high elevation and non-glacial streams is available online via Schweizerbart. We found highly diverse and spatially-structured communities of these ecologically important macroinvertebrates. Rarity was prevalent and highlighted the local differences between sites. Regional patterns reflected distributions of the more common taxa. Hence, projections of chironomid assemblages under climate warming are difficult and conservation of these diverse habitats is therefore important.
Work that initially started as a small semester project in 2011, thought to provide a better understanding of amphipod communities in streams around Lake Constance, now got published in BMC Ecology. I’m really happy that Florian Altermatt suggested this project when I started my Master’s studies and that his research group continued to work on the study system. The project introduced me to the world of amphipods and this is how I eventually became an amphipodologist.
In the paper, we report replicated patterns of community composition and spatial distributions in smaller tributary streams of Lake Constance. However, invading species had no clear effect on the genetic diversity of native amphipods on this small spatial scale. This suggests that large scale observations of invasion biology may not be directly reflected on a smaller scale.
Over easter holidays we headed to the French Alps to search for G. lacustris. Snow, ice and a chilly wind made this trip a nice adventure. Both, the trip to Austria and to France were possible thanks to funding by the Claraz-Donation. Thanks for supporting my work.
Prof. Gordan S. Karaman, an outstanding and well-known expert on amphipods, as well as the journal Contributions to Zoology (former Bijdragen tot de Dierkunde) kindly permitted me to use a beautiful drawing of Gammarus lacustris as logo for my homepage. It is derived from Karaman and Pinkster’s 1977 publication on the Gammarus pulex-group [Fig. 12A from Bijdragen tot de Dierkunde 47 (2)]. I would hereby thank him and the journal very much for this honor and permission.
This web page is intended to give a quick overview about my scientific career and ongoing research as a PhD student in the Altermatt lab, working at Eawag and affiliated with University of Zurich in Switzerland. I’m an ecologist by training, focusing on freshwater ecosystems and biodiversity patterns within these habitats. Particularly, I’m studying amphipods and their diversity and distribution on a country-wide scale.