Infoscience

Journal article

Contrasting Species-Environment Relationships in Communities of Testate Amoebae, Bryophytes and Vascular Plants Along the Fen-Bog Gradient

We studied the vegetation, testate amoebae and abiotic variables (depth of the water table, pH, electrical conductivity, Ca and Mg concentrations of water extracted from mosses) along the bog to extremely rich fen gradient in sub-alpine peatlands of the Upper Engadine (Swiss Alps). Testate amoeba diversity was correlated to that of mosses but not of vascular plants. Diversity peaked in rich fen for testate amoebae and in extremely rich fen for mosses, while for testate amoebae and mosses it was lowest in bog but for vascular plants in extremely rich fen. Multiple factor and redundancy analyses (RDA) revealed a stronger correlation of testate amoebae than of vegetation to water table and hydrochemical variables and relatively strong correlation between testate amoeba and moss community data. In RDA, hydrochemical variables explained a higher proportion of the testate amoeba and moss data than water table depth. Abiotic variables explained a higher percentage of the species data for testate amoebae (30.3% or 19.5% for binary data) than for mosses (13.4%) and vascular plants (10%). These results show that (1) vascular plant, moss and testate amoeba communities respond differently to ecological gradients in peatlands and (2) testate amoebae are more strongly related than vascular plants to the abiotic factors at the mire surface. These differences are related to vertical trophic gradients and associated niche differentiation.

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