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).
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.