Freshwater Testate Amoebae (Arcellinida) Response to Eutrophication as Revealed by Test Size and Shape Indices

Andrew L. Macumber, Helen M. Roe, Stephen V. Prentice, Carl D. Sayer, Helen Bennion, Jorge Salgado

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We review the potential for applying traits-based approaches to freshwater testate amoeba, a diverse protist group that are abundant in lakes and are valuable ecological indicators. We investigated the efficacy of geometric morphometric analysis to define Arcellinida test size and shape indices that could summarize freshwater testate amoeba community dynamics along a temporal gradient of eutrophication in Loch Leven, Scotland (United Kingdom). A cluster analysis of test size and shape indices yielded three clusters, each dominated by a single shape: elongate, spherical and ovoid. When plotted stratigraphically, we observed increases in spherical tests, decreases in elongate tests and shrinking of test size coeval with eutrophication in Loch Leven. Decreases in the elongate cluster may reflect benthic conditions with reduced oxygen levels, while increases in the spherical cluster are likely associated with an expanding macrophyte community that promoted pelagic and epibiotic life habits. Shrinking of test size may be a stress response to eutrophication and/or warming temperatures. Tracking community dynamics using test size and shape indices was found to be as effective as using species-based approaches to summarize key palaeolimnological changes, with the added benefits of being free from taxonomic bias and error. The approach thus shows significant potential for future studies of aquatic community change in nutrient impacted lakes.
Original languageEnglish
Article number568904
Number of pages15
JournalFrontiers in Ecology and Evolution
Publication statusPublished - 03 Dec 2020


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