Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 17, Issue 9, pp 2115–2137 | Cite as

Testate amoebae analysis in ecological and paleoecological studies of wetlands: past, present and future

  • Edward A. D. MitchellEmail author
  • Daniel J. Charman
  • Barry G. Warner
Original Paper


Testate amoebae are an abundant and diverse polyphyletic group of shelled protozoa living in aquatic to moist habitats ranging from estuaries to lakes, rivers, wetlands, soils, litter, and moss habitats. Owing to the preservation of shells in sediments, testate amoebae are useful proxy indicators complementary to long-established indicators such as pollen and spores or macrofossils. Their primary use to date has been for inferring past moisture conditions and climate in ombrotrophic peatlands and, to a lesser extent, to infer pH in peatlands and the trophic or nutrient status of lakes. Recent research on these organisms suggests other possible uses in paleoecology and ecology such as sea-level reconstruction in estuarine environments, as indicators of soil or air pollution, and monitoring recovery of peatland. We review the past and present use of testate amoebae, the challenges in current research, and provide some ideas on future research directions.


Testate amoebae Protozoa Peatland Sphagnum Paleoecology Bioindicators Community ecology Transfer functions Peatland management Restoration ecology 



Edward Mitchell is supported by Swiss NSF project n° 205321-109709/1 and was supported by EU project RECIPE, partly funded by the European Commission (n° EVK2-2002-00269) and partly, for the Swiss partners, by the State Secretariat for Education and Research, Switzerland. SEM illustrations were produced at the SEM lab of the University of Alaska Anchorage under the direction of Dr. Jerry Kudenov. Jan Pawlowski of the University of Geneva provided critical comments on parts of the manuscript. The critical comments of two anonymous reviewers on the manuscript are gratefully acknowledged.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Edward A. D. Mitchell
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Daniel J. Charman
    • 3
  • Barry G. Warner
    • 4
  1. 1.Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL, Wetlands Research GroupLausanneSwitzerland
  2. 2.EPFL, Laboratoire des Systèmes Écologiques (ECOS)LausanneSwitzerland
  3. 3.School of GeographyUniversity of PlymouthPlymouthUK
  4. 4.Department of Earth and Environmental SciencesUniversity of WaterlooWaterlooCanada

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