Polar Biology

, Volume 42, Issue 8, pp 1595–1613 | Cite as

Habitat controls on limno-terrestrial diatom communities of Clearwater Mesa, James Ross Island, Maritime Antarctica

  • K. KopalováEmail author
  • J. Soukup
  • T. J. Kohler
  • M. Roman
  • S. H. Coria
  • P. A. Vignoni
  • K. L. Lecomte
  • L. Nedbalová
  • D. Nývlt
  • J. M. Lirio
Original Paper


Diatoms are important ecological indicators in Antarctica, and paleolimnologists routinely apply transfer functions to fossil diatoms recovered from lake sediments to reconstruct past environments. However, living diatom communities may differ among the possible habitat types represented in sediment cores (both within lakes and their immediate proximity), hindering the full and accurate interpretation of fossil records. Therefore, an improved understanding of Antarctic diatom habitat preferences would substantially aid in interpreting regional paleo-material. To gain insights into habitat differences, we sampled epipelon, epilithon, Nostoc mats, lake-adjacent moss, and wet soil from > 30 lakes and ponds from Clearwater Mesa, James Ross Island, spanning a broad gradient in conductivity (a common basis for transfer functions). We found that diatom communities significantly differed between habitat types (although abundances were too low in Nostoc mats to characterize communities), with the clearest distinctions being between submerged (epipelon and epilithon) and exposed (moss and wet soil) groups. Submerged habitat types had greater abundances of attached aquatic taxa (i.e. Gomphonema spp.), while exposed habitats harboured more abundant aerophilic genera (e.g. Hantzschia, Luticola, and Pinnularia). Furthermore, only epilithon communities were significantly related to conductivity, and both epipelon and epilithon habitats showed conspicuous increases in Denticula jamesrossensis at greater conductivity values. Collectively, these results improve our knowledge of limno-terrestrial diatoms from the Maritime Antarctic Region, and further highlight the utility of incorporating knowledge of habitat preferences into (paleo)ecological research.


Algae Ecology Biogeography Polar Region Climate change Paleolimnology 



The authors would like to acknowledge the logistical support of the Dirección Nacional del Antártico, Instituto Antártico Argentino, and Marambio and J.G. Mendel stations. This contribution was supported by the Czech Science Foundation Project No. 16-17346Y, Agencia National de Promocion Cientifica y Tecnologica (ANPCyT) Project PICTO-2010–0096 and FONCyT PICT 2017–2026. Funding was also provided by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports of the Czech Republic Projects No. LM2015078 and CZ.02.1.01/0.0/0.0/16_013/0001708. Authors wish to acknowledge the assistance of Argentina's Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET) PIP No 2017–2019 GI and PUE 2016-CONICET-CICTERRA, MUNI/A/1251/2017and Secretaría de Ciencia y Técnica, Universidad Nacional de Córdoba (SECyT-UNC). MR’s participation in the field campaign was made possible by the Charles University Grant Agency Grant No. 126715. TJK and KK were further supported by Charles University Research Centre Program No. 204069. We would like to thank Marcos Kitaura, Eduardo Ale Monserrat, Emmanuel C. Portalez Carnovai, and Agustín Cúparo for their great help in the field. Lastly, many thanks to Manuel Toro and two anonymous reviewers for their comments, which greatly improved the manuscript.

Author contributions

KK and TJK performed the analyses, interpreted data, and co-wrote the manuscript with significant input and editing from all authors. KK and JS generated the diatom slides and JS counted them. TJK, JML, SHC, PAV, and MR performed the fieldwork. JML and DN led the study from the Argentinian and Czech sides, respectively. LN, KK, PAV, and KKL generated hydrochemical data.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

No conflicts of interest declared.


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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Ecology, Faculty of ScienceCharles UniversityPragueCzech Republic
  2. 2.Department of Geography, Faculty of ScienceMasaryk UniversityBrnoCzech Republic
  3. 3.Instituto Antártico ArgentinoGeneral San MartínArgentina
  4. 4.Section 5.2: Climate Dynamics and Landscape EvolutionGFZ German Research Centre for GeosciencesPotsdamGermany
  5. 5.FCEFyN, Universidad Nacional de Córdoba (UNC)CórdobaArgentina
  6. 6.Centro de Investigaciones en Ciencias de la Tierra (CICTERRA)CONICET/Universidad Nacional de CórdobaCórdobaArgentina

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