Relationship between atmospheric pollution characterized by NO2 concentrations and testate amoebae density and diversity
To assess the potential use of testate amoebae as biomonitors of atmospheric pollution we studied the relationship between atmospheric nitrogen dioxide (NO2) pollution and testate amoebae density, diversity, and community structure (Protista: Rhizopoda) in (zone 1) and around (zone 2) the city of Besançon, France. NO2 concentrations were on average significantly lower in the city zone (mean: 34.8 ± 9.5 µg/m3) than in the periphery zone (mean: 14.6 ± 4.7 µg/m3). The density of living amoebae was correlated with that of empty tests (0.001<p<0.043 depending on the species), therefore we used the total of dead and living amoebae in all analyses. Testate amoebae species richness was significantly lower in the city (4.7 species) than in the less polluted surrounding areas (6.0 species) but the total density did not vary between the two zones. Of the nine recorded taxa, the density of only one, Paraquadrula irregularis differed significantly between the two zones (p = 0.017), being present in all periphery samples and absent from all city samples. These results are interesting because the pollution level recorded was very low. Although further work is needed before testate amoebae can be used as a monitoring tool for atmospheric pollution, these results suggest they may have a potential for such a use. Further work should focus on potential effects of other pollutants and studies under controlled conditions.