, Volume 336, Issue 1–3, pp 19–32 | Cite as

3. Biodiversity, biogeography and conservation of diatoms

  • D. G. Mann
  • S. J. M. Droop


Recent morphometric and breeding studies of diatoms show that the present species classification is too coarse and hides significant diversity. Many species are subdivided into phenodemes, which often differ in cell size, shape, stria density and pattern, but may also have different ultrastructural features. In raphid diatoms these can include the form of the raphe endings, details of the pore occlusions, and the structure of the girdle, while chloroplast structure can also vary. The phenodemes can be sympatric or allopatric. In Sellaphora pupula and other species, sympatric phenodemes are reproductively isolated. It is recommended that such demes are recognized as separate species; the total number of diatom species worldwide may thus be at least 2 × 105. Use of a fine-grained classification reveals that many diatom species may be endemics, some restricted to a single lake or catchment, others to wider areas. Environmental impact assessments and conservation strategies must begin to take account of endemism and rarity among microscopic algae and protists.

Key words

diatoms biogeography species concept taxonomy conservation 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. G. Mann
    • 1
  • S. J. M. Droop
    • 1
  1. 1.Royal Botanic GardenEdinburghUnited Kingdom

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