Diatom-based Models for Inferring Hydrology and Periphyton Abundance in a Subtropical Karstic Wetland: Implications for Ecosystem-Scale Bioassessment
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- Lee, S.S., Gaiser, E.E. & Trexler, J.C. Wetlands (2013) 33: 157. doi:10.1007/s13157-012-0363-z
We developed diatom-based prediction models of hydrology and periphyton abundance to inform assessment tools for a hydrologically managed wetland. Because hydrology is an important driver of ecosystem change, hydrologic alterations by restoration efforts could modify biological responses, such as periphyton characteristics. In karstic wetlands, diatoms are particularly important components of mat-forming calcareous periphyton assemblages that both respond and contribute to the structural organization and function of the periphyton matrix. We examined the distribution of diatoms across the Florida Everglades landscape and found hydroperiod and periphyton biovolume were strongly correlated with assemblage composition. We present species optima and tolerances for hydroperiod and periphyton biovolume, for use in interpreting the directionality of change in these important variables. Predictions of these variables were mapped to visualize landscape-scale spatial patterns in a dominant driver of change in this ecosystem (hydroperiod) and an ecosystem-level response metric of hydrologic change (periphyton biovolume). Specific diatom assemblages inhabiting periphyton mats of differing abundance can be used to infer past conditions and inform management decisions based on how assemblages are changing. This study captures diatom responses to wide gradients of hydrology and periphyton characteristics to inform ecosystem-scale bioassessment efforts in a large wetland.