Journal of Paleolimnology

, Volume 62, Issue 3, pp 245–257 | Cite as

Environmental and spatial drivers of diatom assemblages in the water column and surface sediment of tropical reservoirs

  • Elaine C. R. BartozekEmail author
  • Angela M. da Silva-Lehmkuhl
  • Irene Gregory-Eaves
  • Denise C. Bicudo
Original paper


The relative contribution of environmental and spatial drivers of community structure has been the focus of many ecological studies. In the context of metacommunity theory, diatoms have been associated mainly with local environmental factors, but in some cases spatial factors have also been identified as important drivers. This study aimed to determine the relative importance of environmental and spatial drivers as predictors of surface sediment and water column diatom assemblages in tropical reservoirs. Sampling was carried out in 33 reservoirs in southeast Brazil, which range in trophic state from oligotrophic to hypereutrophic, and span five hydrological basins. We performed a partial RDA between the predictor matrices (environmental and spatial predictors) and the response matrix (either surface sediment or water column diatom assemblages) to identify the main environmental drivers, and used variation partitioning to assess the relative contribution of environmental and spatial predictors of diatom assemblages. In general, diatom assemblages were structured by a combination of environmental and spatial drivers. Comparisons of results between surface sediment and water column ordinations demonstrated that the assemblages were structured by similar environmental variables (productivity-related variables such as total phosphorus, water transparency and pH) and by a similar set of diatom species, mainly centric diatoms like Aulacoseira granulata var. granulata, A. tenella, Discostella stelligera and Spicaticribra kingstonii. Overall, surface sediment diatoms were more strongly associated with environmental factors than were water-column assemblages, probably because they integrate information in space and time, confirming that surface sediment assemblages are robust indicators of environmental conditions.


Algae Environmental predictors Environmental gradient Metacommunity Spatial predictors 



This study was carried out within the framework of the AcquaSed project supported by funds from FAPESP (Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo, AcquaSed Project, No. 2009/53898-9) and was undertaken as part of ECRB’s Ph.D. thesis (FAPESP doctoral fellowship No. 2013/14337-7 to ECRB) at the Institute of Botany (São Paulo, Brazil). Funds were also provided by CNPq (Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico, Grant 310404/2016-9 to DCB). We thank FAPEAM (Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado do Amazonas) for AMSL’s Ph.D. scholarship. We are also grateful to Amanda Winegardner for her valuable comments on an earlier version of this manuscript. We appreciate the valuable assistance of personnel from the agency in charge of the public water supply in São Paulo—SABESP (Companhia de Saneamento do Estado de São Paulo), Barco Escola da Natureza Association, Companhia Energética Salto do Lobo, Floresta Nacional do Ipanema and Votorantin Energia for their valuable logistical support during the fieldwork. We sincerely thank all the students from the Department of Ecology who were involved in field and laboratory work and those who collaborated in the construction of the AcquaSed database.

Supplementary material

10933_2019_83_MOESM1_ESM.docx (42 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 42 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departamento de EcologiaInstituto de BotânicaSão PauloBrazil
  2. 2.Instituto de BiociênciasUniversidade Estadual PaulistaRio ClaroBrazil
  3. 3.Instituto de Ciências Sociais, Educação e ZootecniaUniversidade Federal do AmazonasParintinsBrazil
  4. 4.Department of BiologyMcGill UniversityMontrealCanada

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