Ostracods from water bodies in hyperarid Israel and Jordan as habitat and water chemistry indicators

Steffen Mischke, Hanan Ginat, Bety Al-Saqarat, Ahuva Almogi-Labin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


The hyperarid region of Israel and Jordan covers a large area where numerous sites of Pleistocene lake sediments suggest that climate conditions were significantly wetter during the Pleistocene. This region experienced a significant increase in aridity in recent decades and the number of existing surface waters is diminishing rapidly. We studied ostracod shells from 49 pond and stream sites to determine the species distribution and to infer ecological preferences especially with respect to general differences in water movement, conductivity and ion composition. Twenty-two ostracod species were identified in total of which 12 taxa occur at three or more sites. Among the rarer species, Cyprinotus scholiosus was identified for the first time after two records from Plio- and Pleistocene sites in Yemen and Saudi Arabia. Further, Paracypretta amati was recorded and its ecological preferences discussed for the first time following the description of the species from its type locality in Sudan. Cypridopsis elongata is the only typical inhabitant of lotic habitats, strictly preferring freshwater conditions and waters with an alkalinity/Ca ratio around 1 and cations dominated by Ca2+ and anions by HCO3 -. In contrast, Cyprideis torosa, Limnocythere inopinata and Heterocypris incongruens apparently prefer waters dominated by Na+ associated with cations and Cl- associated with anions. Heterocypris salina and C. torosa occur over a wide conductivity (or salinity) range and in waters with alkalinity/Ca ratios around 1 and with significant alkalinity depletion. Humphcypris subterranea, Ilyocypris spp. and H. salina are the only taxa which do not show any preference with respect to both the cation and anion dominance of the waters. The ecological preferences of the ostracod species from water bodies in the study area are discussed in detail and can be used for a qualitative assessment of the hydrodynamical and hydrochemical conditions of former water bodies in the presently hyperarid environment based on ostracod species composition analysis of Pleistocene aquatic sediments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87-99
Number of pages13
JournalEcological Indicators
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2012
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We are grateful to Elke Heyde for performing the hydrochemical analysis, and to Maike Glos and Ulla Schudack for help with sample sieving and ostracod picking. The manuscript benefited from the constructive and detailed reviews of two anonymous referees and the editorial comments of Felix Müller. The support of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft is greatly acknowledged.


  • Ecology
  • Near East
  • Non-marine
  • Ostracoda
  • Water chemistry


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