, Volume 695, Issue 1, pp 233–251 | Cite as

Alpine freshwater ecosystems in a protected area: a source of diatom diversity

  • Elisa Falasco
  • Luc Ector
  • Elisabetta Ciaccio
  • Lucien Hoffmann
  • Francesca Bona


The “All Taxa Biodiversity Inventories” (ATBIs) project coordinated by the European Distributed Institute of Taxonomy (EDIT) aims to achieve a baseline biodiversity assessment of flora and fauna in those regions characterized by a lack of knowledge and a high potential for biodiversity. Within the framework of the ATBIs, the aim of this study was to analyse the diatom flora and ecology of a complex of freshwater ecosystems in the Maritime Alps Natural Park (Italy), designated as a Special area of Conservation under the European Habitat Directive. We sampled epilithic and epiphytic diatoms in different habitats in 24 sites: shallow lake, springs, and streams. Our analysis resulted in a list of 138 diatom taxa, highlighting the great biodiversity and the complex structure of the investigated diatom communities. The taxa list included a wide range of uncommon species, including some recorded for the first time in North-Western Italy. Among the different habitats the highest level of diversity was found in the more lentic waters, in particular in limnocrene springs. These results show that the diatom communities of pristine and undisturbed high-mountain environments are rich and complex, despite the severe environmental conditions.


Alpine lake Diatoms Maritime Alps Reference community Springs 



This research was partially funded by the European Distributed Institute of Taxonomy (EDIT). In particular, we would like to thank Marta De Biaggi, the Director and the staff of the Maritime Alps Natural Park for their precious help.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elisa Falasco
    • 1
    • 2
  • Luc Ector
    • 2
  • Elisabetta Ciaccio
    • 1
  • Lucien Hoffmann
    • 2
  • Francesca Bona
    • 1
  1. 1.DIBIOSUniversity of TurinTurinItaly
  2. 2.Department of Environment and Agro-biotechnologies (EVA)Public Research Center—Gabriel LippmannBelvauxLuxembourg

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