Stein, H., C. Griebler, S. Berkhoff, D. Matzke, A. Fuchs, and H.J. Hahn, 2012: “Stygoregions – a promising approach to a bioregional classification of groundwater systems.” Scientific Reports, v. 2, article no. 673, doi: 10.1038/srep00673.
Linked to diverse biological processes, groundwater ecosystems deliver essential services to mankind, the most important of which is the provision of drinking water. In contrast to surface waters, ecological aspects of groundwater systems are ignored by the current European Union and national legislation. Groundwater management and protection measures refer exclusively to its good physicochemical and quantitative status. Current initiatives in developing ecologically sound integrative assessment schemes by taking groundwater fauna into account depend on the initial classification of subsurface bioregions. In a large scale survey, the regional and biogeographical distribution patterns of groundwater dwelling invertebrates were examined for many parts of Germany. Following an exploratory approach, our results underline that the distribution patterns of invertebrates in groundwater are not in accordance with any existing bioregional classification system established for surface habitats. In consequence, we propose to develop a new classification scheme for groundwater ecosystems based on stygoregions.