Stromatolitic communities in Mediterranean streams: adaptations to a changing environment
Authors: Sabater, S.; Guasch, H.; Romaní, A.; Muñoz, I.
Source: Biodiversity and Conservation, Volume 9, Number 3, March 2000 , pp. 379-392(14)
Abstract:A stromatolitic microbial mat extensively covers La Solana streambed, a calcareous Mediterranean stream. This stromatolite shows remarkable biological and physiological diversity. It is mainly composed by cyanobacteria, with Rivularia and Schizothrix as the most abundant taxa. The stromatolite is photosynthetically adaptated to the high irradiances reaching the streambed. Photosynthetically active chlorophyll is present even in the lowest layers of the stromatolite, indicating the presence of well-preserved cyanobacteria in that part. Diffusion of gases and nutrients within the stromatolite can be possible because of the high porosity of the crust. It has been experimentally established that the stromatolite recovers heterotrophic and autotrophic activities in a few hours, after being desiccated for long periods. Recovery after desiccation is indicative of the high resilience of this community to environmental extremes, which are common in Mediterranean climatic regimes. The stromatolitic community is adapted to nutrient limitation, both to low availability of inorganic phosphorus and nitrogen (that constrain growth of primary producers), and to low dissolved organic carbon (mainly affecting heterotrophs). Stromatolitic heterotrophs mainly rely on the organic carbon stored in the crust as the main organic carbon source. These strategies are the direct response of the stromatolite to oligotrophy, and justify the restricted occurrence in stream systems affected by organic pollution.
Document Type: Regular Paper
Affiliations: Departament d'Ecologia, Fac. Biologia, Univ. Barcelona Avgda. Diagonal 645, 08028 Barcelona, Spain
Publication date: March 1, 2000