Testate Amoeba Communities of Epilithic Mosses and Lichens: New Data from Russia, Switzerland and Italy
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The testate amoebae (TA) of many potential habitats around the world have been barely investigated but data on species presence and abundance is essential to answering big questions about microbial biogeography and the diversity of protist life. One such habitat lacking basic data is epilithic mosses and lichens with only a small number of samples analysed in previous studies and no systematic attempt to understand potential environmental controls. We use a large dataset (n = 81) from sites in Russia, Switzerland and Italy to demonstrate that testate amoebae in this habitat are both abundant and diverse. The community of our samples was dominated by ubiquitous taxa and differed between the northern (Russia) and southern (Switzerland and Italy) sites, perhaps due to differences in climate or air quality. Community composition, concentration and diversity were explained by moisture content but not by elevation above the ground surface and there were no significant differences between communities of mosses and lichens. Surprisingly our data showed a significant difference between communities of epiphytic and epilithic lichens in the same region sampled at the same time. Our study adds to the evidence that moisture availability is a critical factor in structuring testate amoeba communities across habitats and highlights the paucity of knowledge of TA in many environments.
20 - 09 - 2016
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