The permanently lightless water beneath Earth’s surface is by no means lifeless. When illuminated by the artificial light of a headlamp, small white flashes appear in the black water of a subterranean lake. Almost anywhere in Europe, there is a good chance that they belong to niphargids.
These slim, fast moving, whitish and eyeless amphipod crustaceans belong to the genus Niphargus, which is the most diverse genus of freshwater amphipods in the world. Most of the species inhabit subterranean waters. They constitute a substantial part of Europe’s groundwater biodiversity. Likewise, the morphology of the group is extremely diverse and difficult to order taxonomically. The difficult taxonomy, along with the high number of species, makes routine identifications difficult and unreliable. Furthermore, the sporadic appearance and small ranges of many species are posing serious problems for the collection in the field, thus hindering morphological revisions as well as DNA-based phylogenetic analyses. As a consequence, studies on the systematics, faunistics, biology and ecology of Niphargus have dropped substantially in the past years.
The aim of this website is to modernize and to unify the taxonomy of Niphargus and Niphargidae by means of an open, on-line taxonomic revision. It is an attempt to construct an easy to access and continuously updated database that consists of a check-list, detailed morphological data suitable for taxonomic and phylogenetic work, and a list of references. For the next stages of the project the inclusion of geo-coded distributional data and DNA-based barcodes is planned.
All data available on this website can be freely downloaded, for additional information please contact us. We appreciate any kind of collaboration, either in form of exchange of literature, material, sequences or other kind of data. The web site is still under construction. We appreciate any critics, comments and suggestions. For any inconveniences or mistakes found on the website please contact us via Contact form.
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