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).
In September 2019, the first monograph on amphipods of Switzerland was released (Fauna Helvetica 32 – Amphipoda). This PDF gives a first insight into different parts of the book. You may order the book using the webshop of info fauna.
The book is published by the Swiss Center for the Cartography of the fauna (CSCF) and the Swiss Entomological Society (SEG). The monograph contains an comprehensive overview about the amphipods of Switzerland, their ecology and their faunistics. It further includes a trilingual species identification key (DE, FR, EN), which is suitable for beginners and experts, and which covers all species of Switzerland and adjacent biogeographic regions. The detailed texts for all 40 species are illustrated, with distribution maps and numerous drawings and photographs. Additionally, the book covers a few species that are hitherto not reported from Switzerland but to be expected in the near future. The wide distribution of amphipods renders them suitable indicator taxa and this book provides the knowledge base needed for future studies, ranging from fundamental research to applied works. We hope that the monograph will meet with wide interest.
Experiments have shown that biodiversity may increase or decrease ecosystem stability. As part of a collaboration between Owen Petchey’s lab at University of Zurich and Florian Altermatt’s lab at Eawag, we performed a large experiment that showed that species richness can simultaneously increase and decrease ecological stability. This highlighed that one should consider multiple stability components and that this could provide new insights. The study was recently published in Nature (read article here) and I am proud to be part of this fruitful project. The story behind the paper can be read in this blog post by Frank Pennekamp.
With our new publication in ZooKeys, the number of amphipod species from Switzerland has risen again. The paper contains two new species (Niphargus luchoffmanni sp. n. and Niphargus tonywhitteni sp. n.), with drawings and descriptions. Additionally, the paper provides a DELTA (DEscription Language for TAxonomy) file and BOLD barcodes, allowing everyone the identification of niphargids based on various morphological and molecular characters.
Both species are geographically restricted (Austria, Germany, Switzerland), with one (N. luchoffmanni) being endemic to the Swiss alps. The species were named after Hans Lukas “Luc” Hoffmann (1923–2016), naturalist and ecologists, founder of the MAVA foundation and co-founder of the World Wild Fund for NAture (WWF), and after Tony Whitten (1953–2017), who devoted his life to nature conservation including conserving life in caves, also being a co-chair of the Cave Invertebrate Specialist Group at IUCN.
With this publication, the next step towards the monography about Swiss amphipods is done. The book should be available by the end of the year via CSCF. This homepage will keep you updated. Or contact me if you want to be informed about the release of the Fauna Helvetica monograph.