Stygobiont Diversity in the San Marcos Artesian Well and Edwards Aquifer Groundwater Ecosystem, Texas, USA




Hutchins, Benjamin T.
Gibson, J. Randy
Diaz, Peter H.
Schwartz, Benjamin F.

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Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute


The Edwards Aquifer and related Edwards-Trinity Aquifer of Central Texas, USA, is a global hotspot of stygobiont biodiversity. We summarize 125 years of biological investigation at the San Marcos Artesian Well (SMAW), the best studied and most biodiverse groundwater site (55 stygobiont taxa: 39 described and 16 undescribed) within the Edwards Aquifer Groundwater Ecosystem. Cluster analysis and redundancy analysis (RDA) incorporating temporally derived, distance-based Moran’s Eigenvector Mapping (dbMem) illustrate temporal dynamics in community composition in 85 high-frequency samples from the SMAW. Although hydraulic variability related to precipitation and discharge partially explained changes in community composition at the SMAW, a large amount of temporal autocorrelation between samples remains unexplained. We summarize potential mechanisms by which hydraulic changes can affect community structure in deep, phreatic karst aquifers. We also compile information on 12 other Edwards and Edwards-Trinity Aquifer sites with 10 or more documented stygobionts and used distance-based RDA to assess the relative influences of distance and site type on three measures of β-diversity. Distance between sites was the most important predictor of total dissimilarity and replacement, although site type was also important. Species richness difference was not predicted by either distance or site type.



phreatic karst aquifer, stygobite, species richness, temporal dynamics, beta-diversity, Biology


Hutchins, B. T., Gibson, J. R., Diaz, P. H., & Schwartz, B. F. (2021). Stygobiont diversity in the San Marcos artesian well and Edwards Aquifer groundwater ecosystem, Texas, USA. Diversity, 13(6), 234.


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