Hidden diversity in forest soils: Characterization and comparison of terrestrial flatworm’s communities in two national parks in Spain

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:2018
Authors:M. Álvarez-Presas, Mateos, E., Riutort, M.
Journal:Ecology and EvolutionEcology and EvolutionEcol Evol
Pagination:7386 - 7400
Date Published:2018/08/01
ISBN Number:2045-7758
Keywords:Last Glacial Maximum, Microplana, molecular phylogenetics, refugia, soil ecology, species diversity

Abstract Terrestrial flatworms (Platyhelminthes, Tricladida, and Geoplanidae) belong to what is known as cryptic soil fauna of humid forests and are animals not easily found or captured in traps. Nonetheless, they have been demonstrated to be good indicators of the conservation status of their habitat as well as a good model to reconstruct the recent and old events affecting biodiversity. This is mainly due to their delicate constitution, their dependence on the integrity of their habitat, and their very low dispersal capacity. At present, little is known about their communities, except for some studies performed in Brazil. In this work, we analyze for the first time in Europe terrestrial flatworm communities. We have selected two protected areas belonging to the Red Española de Parques Nacionales. Our aims include performing a first study of the species richness and community structure for European terrestrial planarian species at regional and local scale. We evaluate the effect of type of forests in the community composition and flatworms? abundance, but also have into account the phylogenetic framework (never considered in previous studies) analyzed based on molecular data. We find differences in the species composition among parks, with an astonishingly high diversity of endemic species in the Parque Nacional de Picos de Europa and an extremely low diversity of species in the Parque Nacional de Ordesa y Monte Perdido. These divergent patterns cannot be attributed to differences in physical variables, and in addition, the analyses of their phylogenetic relationships and, for a few species, their genetic structure, point to a more probable historical explanation.

Short Title:Ecology and Evolution
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