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THE INSECT FAUNA AND SOME OTHER CHARACTERISTICS OF NATURAL SALT SPRINGS ON SALTSPRING ISLAND, BRITISH COLUMBIA

  • Richard A. Ring (a1)

Abstract

The natural salt springs on Saltspring Island, southwestern British Columbia, originate from a source at least 1000 m deep and are distinct in chemical composition not only from the surrounding seawater but also from the groundwater-based salt springs on nearby Mayne Island. Spring water is approximately 2.2-fold more saline than average seawater and is characterized by having significantly higher levels of chloride, sodium, sulphate, silica, iron, alumina, and boron; similar levels of calcium, potassium, fluoride, and nitrogen; but less magnesium. The pH levels in different springs vary between 7.3 and 7.9, compared with pH 8.2 for average surface seawater. Near-surface water temperatures range from 7 °C in mid-winter to 16–21 °C in late summer.The flora and fauna that exploit this unique habitat are characterized by halophilic species known from other saline environments such as saline lakes, brackish water, beaches, and the intertidal zone. Organisms that have been isolated and identified include the following: seven species of bacteria, none of which depends exclusively on a saline environment; a blue-green alga that lives within the springs; an abundant filamentous green alga; and halophilic higher plants and grasses. Two species of spiders [Zelotes sp. (Gnaphosidae) and Pardosa sp. (Lycosidae)] are active in the salt-impregnated areas surrounding the springs.Collembola are represented by Anurida sp. (Poduridae); and insects by Saldula comatula (Saldidae, Hemiptera), the chironomids (Chironomidae, Diptera) Thalassosmittia marina plus two unidentified species, brine flies (Ephydridae, Diptera), and two unidentified cyclorrhaphan dipterans. Among the Hymenoptera, there are two species of Eupteromalus (Pteromalidae), Cyrtogaster capitanea (Pteromalidae), Urolepis rufipes (Pteromalidae), and Stigmus sp. (Pemphredonidae). Ants (Formica spp.) and yellowjackets (Vespula sp.) are frequent foragers in the immediate vicinity of the salt spring. There are three species of Coleoptera, Bembidion indistinctum (Carabidae), Ochthebius lecontei (Hydraenidae), and Thicanus mimus (Anthicidae). These insects are discussed in terms of their distribution within, and preference for, saline environments.

Les fontaines salines naturelles de Saltspring Island, au sud-ouest de la Colombie Britannique, originent d'une source profonde de 1000 m au moins et se distinguent par leur composition chimique non seulement de l'eau de mer environnante, mais aussi de la nappe d'eau souterraine des fontaines salines de Mayne Island qui se trouve tout près. L'eau saline des fontaines est approximativement 2,2 fois plus salée que l'eau de mer et se distingue par des concentrations plus élevés de chlorure, sodium, sulfate, silice, fer, aluminium et bore; des concentrations semblables de calcium, potassium, fluorure et azote; mais une concentration plus basse de magnésium. Les niveaux de pH des fontaines varient entre 7,3 et 7,9, comparer à 8,2 en moyenne pour l'eau de surface de la mer. Les températures près de la surface varient de 7 °C en hiver à 16–21 °C tard en été.

La végétation et la faune qui exploitent cet habitat unique sont distinguées par des espèces halophiles, connues d'autres environnements salins tels que les lacs salins, l'eau saumâtre, les plages et la zone intertidale. Les organismes qui ont été isolés et identifiés sont : sept espèces de bactéries, aucune ne dépendant exclusivement d'un environnement salin; une algue bleue-verte qui vit en dedans de la fontaine; une algue verte filamenteuse abondante; des plantes vasculaires et des herbes halophiles. Deux espèces d'araignées [Zelotes sp. (Gnaphosidae) etPardosa sp. (Lycosidae)] sont actives dans les environs couvert de sels autour des fontaines.

Les Collemboles sont représentés par Anurida sp. (Poduridae) et les insectes comme suit : Saldula comatula (Saldidae, Hemiptera); Thalassosmittia marina (Chironomidae, Diptera) et deux espèces non-identifiées, une espèce de mouche à saumure (Ephydridae, Diptera), deux espèces de diptères cyclorrhaphes; et deux espèces de Eupteromalus (Pteromalidae, Hymenoptera), Cyrtogaster capitanea (Pteromalidae, Hymenoptera), Urolepis rufipes (Pteromalidae, Hymenoptera) et Stigmus sp. (Pemphredonidae, Hymenoptera). Les fourmis (Formica spp.) et les guêpes (Vespula sp.) s'alimentent fréquemment juste aux alentours de la fontaine saline. Trois espèces de Coléoptères s'y trouvent, à savoir : Bembidion indistinctum (Carabidae), Ochthebius lecontei (Hydraenidae) et Thicanus mimus (Anthicidae). Ces insectes font la base d'une discussion en termes de leur distribution et de leur préférence dans les environnements salins.

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References

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THE INSECT FAUNA AND SOME OTHER CHARACTERISTICS OF NATURAL SALT SPRINGS ON SALTSPRING ISLAND, BRITISH COLUMBIA

  • Richard A. Ring (a1)

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