Tropical Ecology

, Volume 60, Issue 2, pp 261–270 | Cite as

Polycystine radiolarians within oligotrophic waters: higher abundance closer to tropical oceanic islands

  • Alejandro Esteweson Santos Faustino da CostaEmail author
  • Jana Ribeiro de Santana
  • Pedro Augusto Mendes de Castro Melo
  • Sigrid Neumann-Leitão
Research Article


We hypothesize that the polycystine radiolarians suffer modifications in density, species richness/diversity, as well as in the assemblage structure with the proximity of the Saint Peter and Saint Paul archipelago at the tropical South Atlantic. To address this, we conducted two oceanographic campaigns throughout the maximum (April) and minimum (November) rainfall period of 2015. A total of 24 stations were delimited around the archipelago, in the proximities of the 50 and 500 m isobaths (closer and farther areas). Water samples were collected between 1 and 100 m with a 10 L Niskin bottle and fixed with lugol. A CTD (conductivity–temperature–depth profiler) was used to obtain temperature and salinity profiles. Surface temperature and salinity presented minor variation and the depth of the onset of thermocline varied between 16 and 63 m. An increase in polycystine radiolarians density was observed with the proximity to the archipelago, with higher values during the minimum rainfall period (two-way ANOVA, P < 0.001). This increase may be associated with a higher concentration of food items in closer areas. The structure of the assemblage was also influenced by distance and rainfall regime (PERMANOVA, P < 0.001), and shifts in the proportion of the relative abundance of rare species were the main cause. A total of 78 taxa were identified and a large portion of the assemblage was composed by juveniles, especially in closer areas, limiting proper identification. Thus, higher densities and a higher proportion of juveniles were observed closer to the archipelago in relation to farther areas.


Biodiversity Equatorial Atlantic Microzooplankton ecology Protist plankton ecology Spatial distribution Tropical microzooplankton 



This work was supported by the Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico-CNPq (Grant number 405499/2012-4). We would like to thank the Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior-CAPES for the PhD scholarship provided to AESFC and the CNPq for the PhD scholarship provided to JRS and for the productivity scholarship provided to SNL. We acknowledge the Brazilian Navy, the Comissão Interministerial para Recursos do Mar (CIRM), and the crew of the “Transmar III” ship for the logistic support. Special thanks to the biologists that cordially assisted us in the field (Aislan G. Cunha, Renata P. S. Campelo, Patrícia S. B. Dantas and Rafael S. Dantas) and in the logistics (Dr. Ralf Schwamborn, Dr. Manuel J. Flores-Montes, and Dr. Felipe Gaspar). We also acknowledge Dr. Xiomara F. G. Diaz, Dr. Tâmara A. Silva, and Dr. Fernando Feitosa for the critical review of the draft manuscript.

Supplementary material

42965_2019_30_MOESM1_ESM.docx (15 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 15 kb)


  1. Abelmann A, Gowing MM (1997) Spatial distribution pattern of living polycystine radiolarian taxa—baseline study for paleoenvironmental reconstructions in the Southern Ocean (Atlantic Sector). Mar Micropaleontol 30:3–28CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Alder VA, Boltovskoy D (1993) The ecology of larger microzooplankton in the Weddell-Scotia confluence area: horizontal and vertical distribution patterns. J Mar Res 51:323–344CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Anderson OR, Bennett P, Angel D, Bryan M (1989) Experimental and observational studies of radiolarian physiological ecology: 2. Trophic activity and symbiont primary productivity of Spongaster tetras tetras with comparative data on predatory activity of some Nassellarida. Mar Micropaleontol 14:267–273CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Araújo M, Cintra M (2009) Modelagem matemática da circulação oceânica na região equatorial do Arquipélago de São Pedro e São Paulo [Mathematical modeling of the oceanic circulation at the equatorial region of the Saint Peter and Saint Paul’s Archipelago]. In: Hazin FHV (ed) O Arquipélago de São Pedro e São Paulo: 10 anos de Estação Científica [The Saint Peter and Saint Paul’s archipelago: 10 years of scientific station]. SECIRM, Brasília, pp 107–114Google Scholar
  5. Benson RN (1966) Recent Radiolaria from the Gulf of California. Ph.D. Thesis, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, United StatesGoogle Scholar
  6. Boltovskoy D (2017) Vertical distribution patterns of Radiolaria Polycystina (Protista) in the World Ocean: living ranges, isothermal submersion and settling shells. J Plankton Res 39:330–349CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Boltovskoy D, Riedel WR (1980) Polycystine Radiolaria from the southwestern Atlantic Ocean plankton. Rev Esp Micropaleontol 12:99–146Google Scholar
  8. Boltovskoy D, Riedel WR (1987) Polycystine Radiolaria of the California current region: seasonal and geographic patterns. Mar Micropaleontol 12:65–104CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Calbet A (2008) The trophic roles of microzooplankton in marine systems. ICES J Mar Sci 65:325–331CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Comeau LA, Vezina AF, Bourgeois M, Juniper SK (1995) Relationship between phytoplankton production and the physical structure of the water column near Cobb Seamount, northeast Pacific. Deep Sea Res I 42:993–1005CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Costa AESF, Santana JR, Neumann-Leitão S (2018) Changes in microplanktonic protists assemblages promoted by the thermocline induced stratification around an oceanic archipelago. An Acad Bras Ciênc 90:2249–2266CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Cullen JJ (1982) The deep chlorophyll maximum: comparing vertical profiles of chlorophyll-a. Can J Fish Aquat Sci 39:791–803CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Genin A (2004) Bio-physical coupling in the formation of zooplankton and fish aggregations over abrupt topographies. J Mar Syst 50:3–20CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Gove JM, McManus MA, Neuheimer AB, Polovina JJ, Drazen JC, Smith RC, Merrifield MA, Friedlander AM, Ehses JS, Young CW, Dillon AK, Williams GJ (2016) Near-island biological hotspots in barren ocean-basins. Nat Commun 7:10581CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Itaki T (2003) Depth-related radiolarian assemblage in the water-column and surface sediments of the Japan Sea. Mar Micropaleontol 47:253–270CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Kling SA (1979) Vertical distribution of polycystine radiolarians in the Central North Pacific. Mar Micropaleontol 4:295–318CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Kling SA, Boltovskoy D (1995) Radiolarian vertical distribution patterns across the southern California Current. Deep Sea Res I 42:191–231CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Kršinić F, Kršinić A (2012) Radiolarians in the Adriatic Sea plankton (Eastern Mediterranean). Acta Adriat 53:187–210Google Scholar
  19. Maia M, Sichel S, Briais A, Brunelli D, Ligi M, Ferreira N, Campos T, Mougel B, Brehme I, Hémond C, Motoki A, Moura D, Scalabrin C, Pessanha I, Alves E, Ayres A, Oliveira P (2016) Extreme mantle uplift and exhumation along a transpressive transform fault. Nat Geosci 9:619–623CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Marañón E, Holligan PM, Barciela R, González N, Mouriño B, Pazó MJ, Varela M (2001) Patterns of phytoplankton size structure and productivity in contrasting open-ocean environments. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 216:43–56CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. McMillen KJ, Casey RE (1978) Distribution of living polycystine radiolarians in the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea, and comparison with the sedimentary record. Mar Micropaleontol 3:121–145CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Melo PAMC, Diaz XFG, Macedo SJ, Neumann-Leitão S (2012) Diurnal and spatial variation of the mesozooplankton community in the Saint Peter and Saint Paul Archipelago, Equatorial Atlantic. Mar Biodivers Rec 5:e121CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Melo PAMC Jr, Melo M, Araújo M, Neumann-Leitão S (2015) The first occurrence of the Order Mormonilloida (Copepoda) in the Tropical Southwest Atlantic Ocean. An Acad Bras Ciê 87:233–237CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Nigrini C, Moore TC Jr (1979) A guide to modern Radiolaria. Spec Pub Cushman Found Foraminifer Res 16:S1Google Scholar
  25. R Core Team (2017) R: a language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna, Austria.
  26. RStudio Team (2016) RStudio: integrated development for R. RStudio, Inc., Boston, MA.
  27. Siokou-Frangou UC, Mazzocchi MG, Montresor M, Ribera D, Alcala M, Vaque D, Zingone A (2010) Plankton in the open Mediterranean Sea: a review. Biogeosciences 7:1543–1586CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Souza CS, Luz JAG, Macedo S, Montes MJF, Mafalda PO Jr (2013) Chlorophyll a and nutrient distribution around seamounts and islands of the tropical south-western Atlantic. Mar Freshw Res 64:168–184CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Swanberg NR (1983) The trophic role of colonial Radiolaria in oligotrophic oceanic environments. Limnol Oceanogr 28:655–666CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Swanberg NR, Anderson OR (1985) The nutrition of radiolarians: trophic activity of some solitary Spumellaria. Limnol Oceanogr 30:646–652CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Swanberg NR, Caron DA (1991) Patterns of sarcodine feeding in epipelagic oceanic plankton. J Plankton Res 13:287–312CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Takahashi K, Honjo S (1981) Vertical flux of Radiolaria: a taxon-quantitative sediment trap study from the western tropical Atlantic. Micropaleontology 27:140–190CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Thompson GA, Alder VA, Boltovskoy D, Brandini F (1999) Abundance and biogeography of tintinnids (Ciliophora) and associated microzooplankton in the Southwestern Atlantic Ocean. J Plankton Res 21:1265–1298CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Welling LA, Pisias NG, Johnson ES, White JR (1996) Distribution of polycystine radiolaria and their relation to the physical environment during the 1992 El Niño and following cold event. Deep Sea Res II 43:1413–1434CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© International Society for Tropical Ecology 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departamento de OceanografiaUniversidade Federal de PernambucoRecifeBrazil
  2. 2.Departamento de Ciências Humanas e TecnologiasUniversidade do Estado da BahiaXique-XiqueBrazil

Personalised recommendations