Deeper knowledge of shallow waters: reviewing the invertebrate fauna of southern African temporary wetlands

Matthew S. Bird, Musa C. Mlambo, Ryan J. Wasserman, Tatenda Dalu, Alexandra J. Holland, Jenny A. Day, Martin H. Villet, David T. Bilton, Helen M. Barber-James, Luc Brendonck

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

45 Citations (Scopus)


Temporary lentic wetlands are becoming increasingly recognised for their collective role in contributing to biodiversity at the landscape scale. In southern Africa, a region with a high density of such wetlands, information characterising the fauna of these systems is disparate and often obscurely published. Here we provide a collation and synthesis of published research on the aquatic invertebrate fauna inhabiting temporary lentic wetlands of the region. We expose the poor taxonomic knowledge of most groups, which makes it difficult to comment on patterns of richness and endemism. Only a few groups (e.g. large branchiopods, ostracods, copepods and cladocerans) appear to reach higher richness and/or endemicity in temporary wetlands compared to their permanent wetland counterparts. IUCN Red List information is lacking for most taxa, thus making it difficult to comment on the conservation status of much of the invertebrate fauna. However, except for a few specialist groups, many of the taxa inhabiting these environments appear to be habitat generalists that opportunistically exploit these waterbodies and this is hypothesised as one of the reasons why endemism appears to be low for most taxa. Given that taxonomy underpins ecology, the urgent need for more foundational taxonomic work on these systems becomes glaringly apparent.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)89-121
Number of pages33
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019


  • African wetlands
  • Aquatic invertebrates
  • Ephemeral wetlands
  • Southern Africa
  • Temporary ponds
  • Wetland invertebrates

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science


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