The invertebrate ecology of the Chalk aquifer in England (UK)

Maurice, L.; Robertson, A.R.; White, D.; Knight, L.; Johns, T.; Edwards, F.; Arietti, M.; Sorensen, J.P.R.; Weitowitz, D.; Marchant, B.P.; Bloomfield, J.P. ORCID: 2016 The invertebrate ecology of the Chalk aquifer in England (UK). Hydrogeology Journal, 24 (2). 459-474.

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The Chalk is an important water supply aquifer, yet ecosystems within it remain poorly understood. Boreholes (198) in seven areas of England (UK) were sampled to determine the importance of the Chalk aquifer as a habitat, and to improve understanding of how species are distributed. Stygobitic macro-invertebrates were remarkably common, and were recorded in 67 % of boreholes in unconcealed Chalk, although they were not recorded in Chalk that is concealed by low-permeability strata and thus likely to be confined. Most species were found in shallow boreholes (<21 m) and boreholes with deep (>50 m) water tables, indicating that the habitat is vertically extensive. Stygobites were present in more boreholes in southern England than northern England (77 % compared to 38 %). Only two species were found in northern England compared to six in southern England, but overall seven of the eight stygobitic macro-invertebrate species found in England were detected in the Chalk. Two species are common in southern England, but absent from northern England despite the presence of a continuous habitat prior to the Devensian glaciation. This suggests that either they did not survive glaciations in the north where glaciers were more extensive, or dispersal rates are slow and they have never colonised northern England. Subsurface ecosystems comprising aquatic macro-invertebrates and meiofauna, as well as the microbial organisms they interact with, are likely to be widespread in the Chalk aquifer. They represent an important contribution to biodiversity, and may influence biogeochemical cycles and provide other ecosystem services.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Acreman
ISSN: 1431-2174
Additional Keywords: GroundwaterBGS, groundwater, ecology, stygobite, groundwater ecosystem, chalk, UK
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Date made live: 12 May 2016 14:37 +0 (UTC)

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