Stygofauna of Karstic Ecosystem in Ponor Mountains, Western Bulgaria: Present Knowledge and Research Challenges

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Stygofauna of Karstic Ecosystem in Ponor Mountains, Western Bulgaria: Present Knowledge and Research Challenges

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Stygofauna of Karstic Ecosystem in Ponor Mountains, Western Bulgaria: Present Knowledge and Research Challenges
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Evtimova, Vesela V.
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Vesela V. Evtimova 1*, Ivan S. Pandourski 1, Aleksey D. Benderev 2 1Institute of Zoology, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, 1, Tsar Osvoboditel Blvd., 1000 Sofia, Bulgaria; E-mails: evtimovv@tcd.ie; pandourski@gmail.com; 2Geological Institute, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Acad. G. Bonchev str., bl. 24, 1113 Sofia, Bulgaria; E-mail: aleksey@router.geology.bas.bg Abstract: The purpose of this research is to examine the relationships between the karstic complexes and the hydro- geological characteristics of karst on one hand, and the distribution of stygobiont species, on the other. The research was conducted in the karstic region of Ponor Mountains, part of Stara Planina range, Western Bulgaria, with an area of approximately 60 km2 and average elevation of about 1000 m a.s.l. The karstic springs in the foot of the mountains are the only water source for nearly 15 000 people. Two basic rock complexes can be distinguished regarding karstification: Triassic karstic complex and Upper Jurassic complex. The principal collector of the groundwater is the Triassic complex with annual discharge of 2900 dm3/s from which 80% is leaving the system through the Iskretski izvori springs. The Jurassic complex is lacking superficial outflow which determines its precipitation alimentation. The stygofauna of Ponor Mountains is very heterogeneously distributed and its composition varies greatly from one station to another. Nevertheless, the similarity calculated on the basis of presence/absence of stygobiont species is high (above 0.7) for the locations from Quaternary and Jurassic complexes. The aquifers in rocks with Triassic age do not demonstrate such similarity owing to the large percentage of local endemic species. Only in some isolated cases faunistic similarity between certain stations is higher. Some of the stations in Triassic aquifer are more similar to stations in Jurassic aquifers or to Quaternary sites, proving the hydro- logical connections between the Triassic and the other two complexes. Spatial distribution and relationships between Jurassic and Triassic complexes are determined by tectonic peculiarities of this part of Stara Planina Mountains. Key words: stygofauna, faunal similarity, Triassic, Jurassic karstic complexes
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161 ACTA ZOOLOGICA BULGARICA Acta zool. bulg., 61 (2), 2009: 161-168Stygofauna of Karstic Ecosystem in Ponor Mountains, Western Bulgaria: Present Knowledge and Research ChallengesVesela V. Evtimova1*, Ivan S. Pandourski1, Aleksey D. Benderev21 Institute of Zoology, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, 1, Tsar Osvoboditel Blvd., 1000 So a, Bulgaria; E-mails: evtimovv@tcd.ie; pandourski@gmail.com;2 Geological Institute, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Acad. G. Bonchev str., bl. 24, 1113 So a, Bulgaria; E-mail: aleksey@router.geology.bas.bg Abstract : The purpose of this research is to examine the relationships between the karstic complexes and the hydrogeological characteristics of karst on one hand, and the distribution of stygobiont species, on the other. The research was conducted in the karstic region of Ponor Mountains, part of Stara Planina range, Western Bulgaria, with an area of approximately 60 km2 and average elevation of about 1000 m a.s.l. The karstic springs in the foot of the mountains are the only water source for nearly 15 000 people. Two basic rock complexes can be distinguished regarding karsti cation: Triassic karstic complex and Upper Jurassic complex. The principal collector of the groundwater is the Triassic complex with annual discharge of 2900 dm3/s from which 80% is leaving the system through the Iskretski izvori springs. The Jurassic complex is lacking super cial out ow which determines its precipitation alimentation. The stygofauna of Ponor Mountains is very heterogeneously distributed and its composition varies greatly from one station to another. Nevertheless, the similarity calculated on the basis of presence/absence of stygobiont species is high (above 0.7) for the locations from Quaternary and Jurassic complexes. The aquifers in rocks with Triassic age do not demonstrate such similarity owing to the large percentage of local endemic species. Only in some isolated cases faunistic similarity between certain stations is higher. Some of the stations in Triassic aquifer are more similar to stations in Jurassic aquifers or to Quaternary sites, proving the hydrological connections between the Triassic and the other two complexes. Spatial distribution and relationships between Jurassic and Triassic complexes are determined by tectonic peculiarities of this part of Stara Planina Mountains. Key words : stygofauna, faunal similarity, Triassic, Jurassic karstic complexesIntroductionThe speci c features of karstic terrains, namely almost complete lack of surface water ow and poor xerophilous vegetation on a thin soil layer, determines the higher vulnerability of groundwater ecosystems, their water resources and invertebrate fauna, inhabiting these environments. In aquifers not all organisms are randomly distributed; they may represent in abundant populations subject to numerous constraints. In this way, they are biological systems controlled by ecological laws and each aquifer must be, a priori, considered as an original biological unit (CREUZE DES CHATELLIERS et al. 1991). Karst covers 22.7% of the total territory of Bulgaria. The invertebrate species, that constitute *Corresponding author

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162 Evtimova V., I. Pandourski, A. Benderev the hypogean fauna of Ponor Mountains, are mostly relict and endemic species from the large groups of Crustacea, Mollusca and Oligochaeta. They need to receive taxonomic description in order to identify threats to ecosystem’s diversity loss. Copepods, being the most numerous group in such habitats, may have a signi cant role in the evaluation of environmental peculiarities (one of the basic problems in groundwater ecology) and can be used as bioindicators of ecosystem’s health and contamination, and of the typological characteristics of karstic system. This study was rst presented at the poster session of the International Symposium ‘Time in karst’, Postojna, Slovenia, 14-18 March 2007. Study area Ponor Mountains (Western Bulgaria) are part of the Balkan Range (Stara Planina Mountains), with altitude from 400 m to 1473 m a.s.l. The region is situated on the south limb of Berkovitsa Anticline passing on the north limb and the core of IzdremetsGubesh Syncline. The central part of the mountain is plateaus with rounded hills at about 900-1330 m a.s.l. Rock garlands often surround them. More than 120 caves are known from the region. The massif is formed mainly by Mesozoic rocks. According to the karsti cation there are two basic rock complexes: the Triassic karstic complex, formed by limestones and dolomites with a maximum depth of 600 m; and the karstic complex of Upper Jurassic with depth of 100-150 m (Fig. 1). The basic collector of ground waters is the Triassic complex with average annual discharge of 2900 dm3/s from which 80% is leaving the system through Iskretski izvori springs (N11) (Table 1). These springs are the biggest in Bulgaria with maximum discharge circa 35 000 dm3/s. The Jurassic complex is characterised by lack of super cial out ow which determines its precipitation alimentation. Its average annual out ow is about 120 dm3/s. Both aquifers are hydrologically differentiated (BENDEREV 1989). The spatial situation and the relationships between these two complexes are determined by the tectonic features of this part of Stara Planina Mountains. The carbonate complexes have been subject to active karsti cation by rainfall and river waters, nourishing the groundwaters, mainly in the Triassic complex.Material and MethodsDue to dif cult accessibility to karstic groundwater ecosystems by human, faunal samples are collected at their natural access, caves and springs, by direct ltering of water at the outlet using phreatic net of CVETKOV (1968), plankton nets of mesh size between 38 and 100 m, and hand-held plankton net. Faunal material was collected also with Bou-Rouch pump and using the methods of arti cial substrates or Karaman-Chappuis method (MATHIEU et al. 1991). It was collected during low-water and high-water periods from different hydrodynamic zones of karst: the in ltration and the saturated zones. The hydrological connection between the mountain surface rivers and Iskretski izvori springs (N11) Table 1. Sampling stations in Ponor Mountains. Number Station Geological index 1 Iskretska river (hyporheic) Q 2 Tserovska river (hyporheic)Q 3 Tserovo village well Q 4 Studena reka river (phreatic water) Q 5 Marina dupka cave J3 6 Travninata cave J3 7 Elata cave J3 8 Dinevata cave J3 9 Tsarkveto cave T2-3 10 Dushnika cave T2-3 11 Iskretski izvori springs T2-3 12 Sanatoriuma springs T2-3 13 Yamata cave T2-3 14 Vodnata cave T2-3 15 Tserovo quarry ( ssure water) T2-3 16 Skaklia springT2-3 17 Mecha poliana mine galleries T2-3 18 Katsite cave T2-3 19 Iskrets church spring T2-3 20 Chernovodtsi springT2-3

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Stygofauna of the Karstic Ecosystem in Ponor Mountains... 163 at the lowest altitude in the area of (Fig. 1; Table 1) is proved by colouration. The time delay of the indicators to reach the spring was 1-2 days during the highwater period and 7-8 days during the low-water periods. The position of the springs is determined by the local structural peculiarities. Iskretski izvori springs are a complex of separated outlets with changing numbers and altitudes, depending on the hydrological cycle. They are over ow springs situated at the lowest part of the Triassic Water Bearing Bed, near the tectonic contact with the non-karsti ed rocks of Lower Palaeozoic (BENDEREV et al. 2005). The qualitative composition of stygofauna in the selected stations (Table 2) was determined using both original data and data from the available literature (PANDOURSKI & BENDEREV, 1998; APOSTOLOV, 1997). The similarity between the locations was calculated only for the stations with typical stygobiont species on the basis of the presence/absence of the species, using Hierarchical Cluster Analysis, STATA 8 software application (Fig. 2). Results and DiscussionThe distribution of Ponor Mountains’ stygofauna is very heterogeneous (Table 2). Its composition can vary greatly from one station to another. At present 25 stygobionts are known from Ponor Mountains: from Mollusca (2), Hirudinea (1), Acari (2), Copepoda (18), Syncarida (1), Isopoda (1) and Amphipoda (3). From the aquifers in rocks with Triassic age are found 25 species while from Jurassic aquifers are found only 7. The common species for both aquifers are 5 species, amongst which with higher frequency of occurrence are Niphargus bureschi Speocyclops lindbergi and Stygoelaphoidella elegans Fig. 1 Schematic geological map and distribution of Diacyclops clandestinus and Acanthocyclops iskrecensis Legend: a – Upper Jurassic karstic rock complex; b – Triassic karstic complex; c – Wells revealing porewaters in alluvium and prolluvium; d – Cave waters; e – Karstic springs; f – Porewaters in mine galleries; g – Distribution of Diacyclops clandestinus ; h – Distribution of Acanthocyclops iskrecensis Sampling stations: 1. Iskretska river (hyporheic); 2. Tserovska river (hyporheic); 3. Tserovo village, well; 4. Studena river (phreatic water); 5. Marina dupka cave; 6. Travninata cave; 7. Elata cave; 8. Dinevata cave; 9. Tsarkveto cave; 10. Dushnika cave; 11. Iskretski izvori springs; 12. Sanatoriuma spring; 13. Yamata cave; 14. Vodnata cave; 15. Tserovo quarry; 16. Skaklia spring; 17. Mecha poliana mine gallery; 18. Katsite cave; 19. Iskrets church spring; 20. Chernovodtsi spring

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164 Evtimova V., I. Pandourski, A. Benderev The copepod Diacyclops clandestinus is the most common species found in samples from 7 of the stations (Fig. 1). It inhabits the main springs of Triassic autochthonous complex Iskretski izvori springs (N11) and Skaklia spring (N16). Together with D. languidoides they are typical for the ssure waters (Tserovo quarry N15 or Chernovodtsi spring N20) and interstitial waters, but we have not found them in the Jurassic complex. We have found Acanthocyclops iskrecensis at 6 of the studied stations, both in caves from the Jurassic (Elata cave N7 and Dinevata cave N8) and the Triassic karstic complexes (Katsite cave N18); and in the spring and porewaters of Tserovo quarry (N15) and Iskretski izvori springs (N11). This distribution (Fig. 1) demonstrates possible direct hydrological connections between large parts of the two complexes. Table 2 Qualitative composition and distribution of the stygofauna in Ponor karstic system. TaxaStation number Mollusca Cavernisa zaschevi (Angelov 1959) Iglica acicularis Angelov 195911, 13, 16 11 Hirudinea Dina absoloni JOHANSSON 1913 (s. lat.) 8 Acari Soldanellonyx chappuisi WALTER 1917 Halacaridae gen. sp. 8, 16 13, 16 Crustacea Copepoda Cyclops abyssorum divergens LINDBERG 1936 Acanthocyclops radevi PANDOURSKI 1992 A. propinquus (PLESA 1957) A. iskrecensis PANDOURSKI 1992 A. stygius (CHAPPUIS 1924) (s. lat.) Diacyclops clandestinus (KIEFER 1926) D. pelagonicus saetosus PANDOURSKI 1993 D. languidoides LILLJEBORG 1901 (s. lat.) Speocyclops lindbergi DAMIAN 1957 Graeteriella unisetigera (GRAETER 1910) Eucyclops sp Maraenobiotus parainsignipes APOSTOLOV 1991 Stygoelaphoidella elegans APOSTOLOV 1989 Elaphoidella iscrecensis APOSTOLOV 1997 E. cavernicola APOSTOLOV 1992 E. elaphoides (CHAPPUIS 1924) (s. lat.) Elaphoidella sp. CHAPPUIS 1929 Parastenocaris bulgarica APOSTOLOV 1992 Syncarida Bathynella sp. VEJDOVSKY 1882 Isopoda Sphaeromides bureschi bureschi STROUHAL 1963 Amphipoda Niphargus bureschi (FAGE 1926) Niphargus sp. I Niphargus sp. II 18 13, 14, 19, 20 11, 19 7, 8, 11, 13, 17, 18 11, 12 1, 2, 3, 10, 11, 15, 16 10 1, 10, 11, 16, 20 5, 6, 9, 11, 15 2, 11, 16 16 11 1, 5, 9, 11 11, 17 13, 14, 18 3 10, 11 10 4, 5 10, 13, 14 6, 7, 13, 14 16 12, 18

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Stygofauna of the Karstic Ecosystem in Ponor Mountains... 165 Speocyclops lindbergi have been found in rimstone pools and puddles of caves situated at high altitude above the local erosion level in both the karstic complexes and in Iskretski izvori springs. The rest of the species are localised in from one to four stations and probably they are connected to speci c habitat requirements. There are species which are characteristic of only the groundwater of Triassic rocks and others that can be found in both karsti ed complexes. The biodiversity is greater in the main discharge points in the autochthonous Triassic limestone, such as, Iskretski izvori springs (N11) and Dushnika cave (N10); Vodnata (N14) and Yamata (N13) caves; Skaklia spring (N16) and Katsite cave (N18). In Iskretsi izvori springs is registered the highest hypogean faunistic diversity: a total of 13 species are found. It is due to the large catchment area of the spring which includes many of the other sampling stations. The large diversity in hypogean environments is determined by their complex and prolonged paleogeographic evolution. The origin of some of them is connected to ancient marine transgressions during late Cretaceous (PANDOURSKI & BRESKOVSKI, 1995). In the alluvial-prolluvial sediments of Studena reka river before the in ow in the karsti ed Triassic limestones we have found only one bathynellid species. The possible reason for that could be the shallow groundwater level and the higher altitude resulting in the more signi cant annual temperature amplitude. Based on the cluster analysis Ponor MountainsÂ’ territory could be divided into two groups of locations, exhibiting a corresponding degree of faunal similarity, and several more independent units (Fig. 2). The rst group includes the greatest number of stations: ((N1+ (N2+ N3+ N15)) + (N4 + (N5+ N9)) + (N19+ N20)). It includes mainly karstic sources situated along Brezenska and Iskretska rivers (excluding Iskretski izvori springs). A clearly de ned subgroup with very high similarity includes the aquifers of Quaternary sediments of Tserovo river (N2) and Tserovo well (N3), and Tserovo quarry (N15) developed in Triassic rocks. There are two pairs with very high similarity belonging to the same main group. The rst pair is Marina dupka (N5) and Tsarkveto caves (N9), which are geographically close to each other but in rocks with different age. The other pair is Iskrets church spring (N19) and Chernovodtsi spring (N20). In the second group there is high similarity between the caves in Jurassic rocks (N6, N7, N8) and Mecha poliana mine gallery (N17) due to the direct contact between the Jurassic rocks and the alochthonous Triassic rocks. Similar to this group are the other spring emerging also from the alochthonous Fig. 2. Degree of faunal similarity between the sampling stations in the Ponor karstic system. Legend: 1. Iskretska river (hyporheic); 2. Tserovska River (hyporheic); 3. Tserovo village, well; 4. Studena River (phreatic water); 5. Marina dupka cave; 6. Travninata cave; 7. Elata cave; 8. Dinevata cave; 9. Tsarkveto cave; 10. Dushnika cave; 11. Iskretski spring; 12. Sanatoriuma spring; 13. Yamata cave; 14. Vodnata cave; 15. Tserovo quarry; 16. Skaklia springs; 17. Mecha poliana mine gallery; 18. Katsite cave; 19. Iskrets church spring; 20. Chernovodtsi spring.

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166 Evtimova V., I. Pandourski, A. Benderev Triassic complex, Sanatoriuma spring (N12), and the percolation waters in Katsite cave (N18) developed in autochthonous Triassic rocks in the higher parts of Ponor Mountains. Yamata (N13) and Vodnata (N14) caves demonstrate high similarity owing to the relatively homogenous composition of the fauna. They form a separate group because of the presence of common endemic crustacean species. In Dushnika cave (N10) the hydrodynamic conditions change dramatically throughout the year: during high-water periods the cave discharges the over ow waters of Iskretski izvori springs (N11), the main discharge point of Ponor massif, while during low-water periods further inside the cave there is a siphon lake. This sampling site is somewhat independent unit but demonstrates similarity with Quaternary group, as well as, with stations from Jurassic complex, the alochthonous Triassic and Katsite cave (N18). The main springs collecting the groundwater of Ponor Mountains: Iskretsi izvori springs (N11) and Skaklia spring (N16) are differentiated and do not demonstrate clear similarity with any of the other stations. The studied hypogean faunistic community may be used as a natural indicator of the hydrogeological division of karst, potential subsurface water connections, hydrological regime, transformation and bioaccumulation of contaminants. The main challenges to be faced in the future are to understand and clarify regional and fundamental issues concerning structure and functioning of subterranean aquatic ecosystems; to specify the zones with high diversity and measures for their protection and management to be proposed; to evaluate the role of groundwater – surface ecotone as a zone of exchange of energy, matter and contaminants between subsurface and surface environments. ReferencesAPOSTOLOV A. 1997. Coppodes harpacticodes des eaux souterrains kasrtiques de Bulgarie. – Bolletino del Museo Civico di Storia Naturale di Verona 21 : 371-381. BENDEREV A., V. SPASSOV, S. SHANOV and B. MIHAYLOVA 2005. Hydrogeological karst features of the Western Balkan (Bulgaria) and the anthropological impact. – Proceedings of Water Resources and Environmental Problems in Karst 13-19 September Belgrade & Kotor: 37-42. BENDEREV A. 1989. Karst and karst Water in Ponor Mountains. PhD Thesis, Research Institute of Mineral Deposits, So a, 1-157. CREUZ DES CHATELLIERS M., M.-J. TURQUIN and J. GIBERT 1991. Aquifers: biological systems. Hydrogologie 3 : 163-185. CVETKOV L., 1968. Un llet phratobiologique. – Bulletin de l’Institut de Zoologie et Muse So a, 27 : 215-218. MALARD F., J.-L. REYGROBELLET, J. MATHIEU and M. LAFONT 1994. The use of invertebrate communities to describe groundwater ow and contaminant transport in a fractured rock aquifer. – Archiv fr Hydrobiologie 131 (1): 93-110. MATHIEU J., P. MARMONIER, R. LAURENT and D. MARTIN 1991: Rcolte du matriel biologique aquatique souterrain et stratgie d’chantillonnage. – Hydrogologie 3 : 187-200. PANDOURSKI I. and A. BENDEREV 1998: La faune stygobie de la montagne de Ponor et leur rpartition en relation avec la structure gologique et la caractristique hydrodynamique du karst. – In: Carbonnel, J.P. & J.N. Stamenov (Eds.): Observation of the Environment of the Mountains in Europe. International Symposium OM2, 14-18 October 1997, Borovets, Bulgaria, 7 : 141-147. PANDOURSKI I., S. BRESKOVSKI 1995. Origine des isopodes cirolanides et stnasellides dans les eaux souterraines karstiques de la montagne de Stara Planina occidentale et moyenne (Bulgarie) en relation avec l’histoire palogographique de la rgion. – Mmoires de Biospologie 22 : 115-119. Received: 16.01.2009 Accepted: 20.05.2009

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Stygofauna of the Karstic Ecosystem in Ponor Mountains... 167 : , ( ) , , 60 km2 1000 m. 15 000 : 2900 dm3/s, 80% . , / ( 0,7) . , .


Description
Vesela V. Evtimova
1*, Ivan S. Pandourski
1, Aleksey D. Benderev
2
1Institute of Zoology, Bulgarian Academy of
Sciences, 1, Tsar Osvoboditel Blvd., 1000 Sofia, Bulgaria;
E-mails: evtimovv@tcd.ie; pandourski@gmail.com;
2Geological Institute, Bulgarian Academy of
Sciences, Acad. G. Bonchev str., bl. 24, 1113 Sofia,
Bulgaria; E-mail: aleksey@router.geology.bas.bg
Abstract:
The purpose of this research is to examine the
relationships between the karstic complexes and the hydro-
geological characteristics of karst on one hand, and the
distribution of stygobiont species, on the other. The
research was conducted in the karstic region of Ponor
Mountains, part of Stara Planina range, Western Bulgaria,
with an area of approximately 60 km2 and average elevation of
about 1000 m a.s.l. The karstic springs in the foot of the
mountains are the only water source for nearly 15 000 people.
Two basic rock complexes can be distinguished regarding
karstification: Triassic karstic complex and Upper Jurassic
complex. The principal collector of the groundwater is the
Triassic complex with annual discharge of 2900 dm3/s from
which 80% is leaving the system through the Iskretski izvori
springs. The Jurassic complex is lacking superficial outflow
which determines its precipitation alimentation. The
stygofauna of Ponor Mountains is very heterogeneously
distributed and its composition varies greatly from one
station to another. Nevertheless, the similarity calculated
on the basis of presence/absence of stygobiont species is
high (above 0.7) for the locations from Quaternary and
Jurassic complexes. The aquifers in rocks with Triassic age
do not demonstrate such similarity owing to the large
percentage of local endemic species. Only in some isolated
cases faunistic similarity between certain stations is
higher. Some of the stations in Triassic aquifer are more
similar to stations in Jurassic aquifers or to Quaternary
sites, proving the hydro- logical connections between the
Triassic and the other two complexes. Spatial distribution
and relationships between Jurassic and Triassic complexes are
determined by tectonic peculiarities of this part of Stara
Planina Mountains.
Key words: stygofauna, faunal similarity,
Triassic, Jurassic karstic complexes


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