Vertical migratory rhythms of benthic diatoms in a tropical intertidal sand flat: Influence of irradiance and tides
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Vertical migratory behavior of benthic diatoms is one of the adaptive strategies employed for a life in intertidal habitats. Irradiance and tides are considered to be the key factors governing vertical migration. Experiments were carried out to determine the influence of these factors in tropical intertidal sand flat. Rising to the sediment surface for fulfillment of their light requirements for photosynthesis was the first priority. If not fulfilled during the low-tide exposure, diatoms could withstand the tidal effects and stay up at the surface even during the high-tide coverage. In the laboratory experiments, where the effects of tides were removed, the endogenous clock continued to operate in a similar fashion to that in the field when under 12-h light:12-h dark conditions, whereas continuous darkness induced a tidal rhythm. In continuous light, diatoms preferred to stay up longer than was observed in field. The above-mentioned observations reveal that irradiance has a stronger effect than tides in controlling/regulating microscale migrations in benthic diatoms. In addition, temporal differences in the irradiance and the resulting changes in diatom migration can have implications for littoral primary productivity.
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