Despite being a fundamental component of biodiversity, several highly diverse taxa of aquatic invertebrates are still poorly known and poorly considered in protection programs. This is the case especially of several invertebrate species that inhabit groundwater. In this environment, invertebrates play significant roles in ecosystem services closely connected to the usefulness of these systems for human welfare and survival. The groundwater biodiversity of continental Italy is largely unknown and its importance is neglected in national and regional legislation. One of the most poorly studied groups of Italian groundwater fauna are planarians (Platyhelminthes, Tricladida). Most known species are endemic to small, single karst areas or a single cave, their geographic range never having been investigated in detail after the original description. The aims of this study are i) to provide the first conservation assessment of cave-dwelling planarians in the Italian Alps and Apennines, whose status is at present Not Evaluated in IUCN categories and ii) to evaluate which environmental constraints, including potential threats, possibly affect the occurrence of the species within different cave systems. Our results suggest that most of the cave-dwelling planarian species of continental Italy are threatened by water pollution and habitat destruction/alteration; moreover, datasets underline that there is a considerable conservation issue concerning stenoendemic planarians that may involve other cave-dwelling invertebrates with narrow geographic ranges. Generally, the underground habitat of most surveyed species appears to be deeply compromised and changed since the first species description.

The stenoendemic cave-dwelling planarians (Platyhelminthes, Tricladida) of the Italian Alps and Apennines: Conservation issues

Lunghi E.
2018

Abstract

Despite being a fundamental component of biodiversity, several highly diverse taxa of aquatic invertebrates are still poorly known and poorly considered in protection programs. This is the case especially of several invertebrate species that inhabit groundwater. In this environment, invertebrates play significant roles in ecosystem services closely connected to the usefulness of these systems for human welfare and survival. The groundwater biodiversity of continental Italy is largely unknown and its importance is neglected in national and regional legislation. One of the most poorly studied groups of Italian groundwater fauna are planarians (Platyhelminthes, Tricladida). Most known species are endemic to small, single karst areas or a single cave, their geographic range never having been investigated in detail after the original description. The aims of this study are i) to provide the first conservation assessment of cave-dwelling planarians in the Italian Alps and Apennines, whose status is at present Not Evaluated in IUCN categories and ii) to evaluate which environmental constraints, including potential threats, possibly affect the occurrence of the species within different cave systems. Our results suggest that most of the cave-dwelling planarian species of continental Italy are threatened by water pollution and habitat destruction/alteration; moreover, datasets underline that there is a considerable conservation issue concerning stenoendemic planarians that may involve other cave-dwelling invertebrates with narrow geographic ranges. Generally, the underground habitat of most surveyed species appears to be deeply compromised and changed since the first species description.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11697/193200
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