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Response of diatoms to the changing water quality in the Myristica swamps of the Western Ghats, India
Thacker, M.; Karthick, B. (2022). Response of diatoms to the changing water quality in the Myristica swamps of the Western Ghats, India. Diversity 14(3): 202.
In: Diversity. MDPI: Basel. ISSN 1424-2818; e-ISSN 1424-2818
Peer reviewed article  

Available in  Authors 

    Bacillariophyceae [WoRMS]
    Fresh water
Author keywords
    wetlands; bacillariophycae; water quality; community analysis; environment; indicators

Authors  Top 
  • Thacker, M.
  • Karthick, B., more

    Myristica swamps are one of the rarest wetland ecosystems within the sub-tropical evergreen forests of the Western Ghats, India. As their name indicates, they harbor trees belonging to the ancient family Myristicaceae. Due to the waterlogged conditions and high humic decomposition, these swamps are acidic, harbor rare and endemic biotas, and provide ecosystem services to humans. Monitoring this rare ecosystem is crucial because the swamps that once formed a large hydrological network across the Western Ghats are now confined to isolated patches due to human disturbance such as agricultural interventions, roads, and dam construction. Due to the change in land use, there is also a drastic change in water chemistry and associated biodiversity. Biomonitoring is more precise than physical and chemical monitoring. So, the current study aimed to undertake a comprehensive analysis of the physical, chemical, and biological assessment of these swamps. The diatom assemblages are strongly affected by water chemistry and serve as a powerful indicator of environmental changes in the freshwater aquatic systems. However, there is no information on diatom assemblages in these swamps, and the present study aimed to determine the diatom assemblage structure in the Myristica swamps and their response to changing water quality. Diatom samples were taken at 17 different swamps across the central Western Ghats, and a set of environmental parameters was evaluated. Analysis revealed a total of 91 species of diatoms belonging to 27 genera across the 17 sites, from which 44 diatom species showed restricted distribution to this unique environment. Overall, the dominant diatom genera inside the swamps included, Navicula (19.8%), Gomphonema (16%), Eunotia (13.3%), Ulnaria (9.4%), Achnanthidium (8%), Frustulia (6.2%), Planothidium (5.2%), and Brachysira (2.8%). High diatom species richness was observed in the swamps having less anthropogenic disturbance, and diatom assemblage composition was primarily determined by dissolved oxygen, pH, and conductivity. The significant number of geographically restricted taxa in this study points towards our limited understanding of this tropical biome and calls for a dire need for more studies from here, not only to improve our knowledge concerning the diversity, ecology, and biogeography of these diatoms but to further encourage their use in applied (paleo) environmental sciences. Our results indicate that diatoms can prove useful environmental indicators even in harsh environments like swamps and can be a potential tool for assessing ecological and climatic change.

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