Biofilm diatom community structure: Influence of temporal and substratum variability
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Diatoms, which are early autotrophic colonisers, are an important constituent of the biofouling community in the marine environment. The effects of substratum and temporal variations on the fouling diatom community structure in a monsooninfluenced tropical estuary were studied. Fibreglass and glass coupons were exposed every month for a period of 4 days and the diatom population sampled at 24 h intervals, over a period of 14 months. The planktonic diatom community structure differed from the biofilm community. Pennate diatoms dominated the biofilms whilst centric diatoms were dominant in the water column. Among the biofilm diatoms, species belonging to the genera Navicula, Amphora, Nitzschia, Pleurosigma and Thalassionema were dominant. On certain occasions, the influence of planktonic blooms was also seen on the biofilm community. A comparative study of biofilms formed on the two substrata revealed significant differences in density and diversity. However species composition was almost constant. In addition to substratum variations, the biofilm diatom community structure also showed significant seasonal variations, which were attributed to physico-chemical and biological changes in both the water and substratum. Temporal variations in the tychopelagic diatoms of the water were also observed to exert an influence on the biofilm diatom community. Variations in diatom communities may determine the functional ecosystem of the benthic environment.
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