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Evidence for regional aeolian transport of freshwater micrometazoans in arid regions
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    Limnol Oceanogr Lett. 2018 Aug; 3(4): 320–330.
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    While separated by large expanses of dry terrain unsuitable for aquatic biota, aridland waters possess high biodiversity. How aquatic micrometazoans disperse to, and colonize, these isolated ephemeral habitats are not well understood. We used a multi-faceted approach including wind tunnel and rehydration experiments, and next-generation sequencing to assess potential movement of diapausing propagules of aquatic invertebrates by anemochory across regional scales (102–105 km). Wind tunnel experiments using dry playa sediments with added micrometazoan propagules demonstrated that after entrainment by saltation and downwind transport were subsequently recoverable as viable animals when rehydrated. Further, rehydration of fallen natural dust yielded micrometazoans, including rotifers, gastrotrichs, microcrustaceans, and nematodes. Using conserved DNA primers, we identified >3,300 eukaryotic Operational Taxonomic Units (excluding fungi) in the dust including some taxa found in rehydration experiments. Thus, we provide strong evidence that anemochory can disperse micrometazoans among isolated, ephemeral ecosystems in North American deserts and likely elsewhere.
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