Desert aquatic systems are widely separated, lack hydrologic connections, and are subject to drought. However, they provide unique settings to investigate distributional patterns of micrometazoans, including rotifers. Thus, to understand rotifer biodiversity we sampled 236 sites across an array of habitats including rock pools, springs, tanks, flowing waters, playas, lakes, and reservoirs in the Chihuahuan Desert of the USA (n
= 202) and Mexico (n
= 34) over a period of >20 years. This allowed us to calculate diversity indices and examine geographic patterns in rotifer community composition. Of ~1850 recognized rotifer species, we recorded 246 taxa (~13%), with greatest diversity in springs (n
= 175), lakes (n
= 112), and rock pools (n
= 72). Sampling effort was positively related to observed richness in springs, lakes, rivers, and tanks. Nestedness analyses indicated that rotifers in these sites, and most subsets thereof, were highly nested (support from 4 null models). Distance was positively correlated with species composition dissimilarity on small spatial scales. We predicted species richness for unsampled locations using empirical Bayesian kriging. These findings provide a better understanding of regional rotifer diversity in aridlands and provide information on potential biodiversity hotspots for aquatic scientists and resource managers.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited