We analyzed modern ostracode species assemblages and water column physico-chemical characteristics in Lago Péten Itzá, Guatemala. Lake waters are dominated by sulfate, bicarbonate, calcium and magnesium and display a total ion concentration of ~11 meq L-1. Eleven extant ostracode species were identified. We found higher abundances of living ostracodes, as well as relatively higher species richness (eight species) and biodiversity (H of 1.6) between the littoral zone and a water depth of <20 m. At water depths >40 m, these variables all decreased. The thermocline is located at a water depth of ~20-40 m. Cluster analysis revealed three water depth ranges in the lake of importance to ostracode distribution: 1) littoral zone (0.1-3 m), 2) water depths from the base of the littoral zone to the base of the thermocline (3-40 m), and 3) water depths below the thermocline (40-160 m). The assemblage Darwinula-Heterocypris-Pseudocandona-Strandesia is characteristic of waters <15 m. The Cypridopsis-Cytheridella-Limnocythere assemblage characterizes waters <40 m and Physocypria indicates waters >40 m. Ostracode taxa from Lago Petén Itzá show specific ecological preferences related to water depth and associated physico-chemical characteristics, thus illustrating the potential of ostracodes as indicators of lake level changes and hydrodynamics.
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- Freshwater ostracodes
- Lago petén itzá
- Water depth