Habitat preferences of Micrasterias arcuata (Desmidiales, Viridiplantae) in wetlands from central Brazil: an allometric study
The green alga Micrasterias arcuata is commonly found in the periphyton of slightly acidic ponds and wet grasslands of central Brazil. We used M. arcuata complex as a model system for evaluation of the following questions: (a) Is there any relation between morphological characteristics of M. arcuata populations and ecological features of the sites? (b) Can the observed plasticity be explained by an allometric scaling relationship leading to differential distribution of the morphotypes among different habitats (ponds and wet grasslands)? (c) Is there any surface-to-volume ratio (S:V) scaling that can be explained as adaptive response to ecological characteristics of sites? A total of 50 individual semicells of M. arcuata were photographed from ten natural populations, yielding a 500 objects dataset. Individuals from ponds were morphologically different from the ones in the wet grasslands, presenting bigger cells, but also with higher S:V. The eventual surface loss usually associated to bigger sizes was compensated by more elaborated cells, yielding positive allometry of the S:V ratio scaling. Our data support the idea that such differences in cell morphology are an adaptation to environmental conditions, especially desiccation stress favoring cells with lower S:V and higher isoperimetric quotient in the wet grasslands.
KeywordsAllometry Cerrado Geometric morphometrics Phytobenthos Tropical desmids
This study was sponsored by the Research Foundation of the Federal District (Fundação de Apoio à Pesquisa do Distrito Federal, FAPDF) (Award number 0193.001384/2016). We thank the Catholic University of Brasília (UCB) for the logistic support for the biological collections; the Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation (ICMBio) for support in the Brasília National Park and in the Chapada dos Veadeiros National Park; the Brazilian Army for its assistance in the Formosa Instructional Camp; the administration staffs of RECOR and ESECAE for their support within these areas. The authors also thank to Cristielly de Oliveira Silva Machado (UCB) for her help with the pictures, and to Eti Ester Levi (Aarhus University, Denmark) for her support during the final revision.
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