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A Null Model to Explain Zooplankton Species Associations in Saline Lakes of the South American Altiplano (14-27°S)

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Zooplankton diversity in shallow salt lakes of the Andean countries in South America is low and distribution is highly dependent on salinity, which varies from moderate to high. At salinities lower than 90 g/l, the halophilic copepod Boeckella poopoensis (Marsh, 1906) predominates, whereas above that level the anostracan Artemia franciscana (Kellogg, 1912) is the exclusive component of the habitat. This constitutes, however, fragmentary information only. A review of the available literature for Andean saline lakes in Bolivia, Chile, and Peru, confirms that presence and distribution of both species is significantly driven by salinity levels. The results of a species co-occurrence null model analysis, indicates that species associations are not random, and these results are supported by the correlation analysis, which indicates a significant, inverse correlation between species number and salinity, and a significant direct relation of species number with surface of the habitat. The low species diversity characteristically seen in these habitats and their dependence on salinity changes effectuated by weather conditions, provide a good model-system for monitoring weather change. La diversidad del zooplankton en lagos salinos poco profundos de Sudamérica es baja y su distribución depende altamente de la salinidad, la cual varía de moderada a alta. A salinidades menores a 90 g/l predomina el copépodo halofílico Boeckella poopoensis (Marsh, 1906), mientras que a salinidades superiores a ese nivel, el anostraco Artemia franciscana (Kellogg, 1912) es el componente exclusivo de los hábitats. Esto constituye sin embargo una información parcial. En una revisión de la literatura disponible para lagos salinos Andinos en Bolivia, Chile y Perú se confirma que la presencia y distribución de ambas especies está significativamente regulada por el nivel de la salinidad. Los resultados del modelo nulo de co-ocurrencia de especies indican que las asociaciones de especies no son aleatorias, y estos resultados están respaldados por el análisis de correlación, el cual indica una relación inversa significativa entre número de especies con salinidad, y hubo relaciones directas significativas entre número de especies con la superficie del hábitat. El bajo número de especies que es característico de estos hábitats y su dependencia con los cambios de salinidad efectuado por las condiciones climáticas provee un buen modelo de sistema de monitoreo de cambios climáticos.

Affiliations: 1: Universidad Católica de Temuco, Facultad de Recursos Naturales, Escuela de Ciencias Ambientales, Laboratorio de Limnología y Recursos Hídricos, Casilla 15-D, Temuco, Chile; ; or, Email:; 2: Universidad de los Lagos, Laboratorio de Genética & Acuicultura, Casilla 933, Osorno, Chile;, Email:


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