Plant Ecology and Evolution 154(1): 63-79, doi: 10.5091/plecevo.2021.1767
Moss-inhabiting diatom communities from Ile Amsterdam (TAAF, southern Indian Ocean)
expand article infoBarbora Chattová, Marc Lebouvier§, Vít Syrovátka, Bart Van de Vijver|
‡ Department of Botany & Zoology, Faculty of Science, Masaryk University, Kotlarska 2, 61137 Brno, Czech Republic§ University of Rennes, Rennes, France| Meise Botanic Garden, Research Department, Nieuwelaan 38, B-1860 Meise, Belgium
Open Access

Background and aims – Despite the ongoing taxonomical revision of the entire (sub)-Antarctic diatom flora, our knowledge on the ecology and community associations of moss-inhabiting diatoms is still rather limited. In the present study, our research aim was to survey the diversity together with the environmental factors structuring the epiphytic moss diatom communities on Ile Amsterdam (TAAF), a small volcanic island in the southern Indian Ocean.

Material and methods – A morphology-based dataset and (physico)chemical measurements were used for the ecological and biogeographical analysis of moss-inhabiting diatom flora from Ile Amsterdam. In total, 148 moss samples were examined using light microscopy.

Key results – The analysis revealed the presence of 125 diatom taxa belonging to 38 genera. The uniqueness of the Ile Amsterdam diatom flora is mainly reflected by the species composition of the dominant genera Pinnularia, Nitzschia, Humidophila, and Luticola, with a large number of unknown and often new species. This highly specific diatom flora, together with differences in the habitats sampled and the isolated position of the island, resulted in very low similarity values between Ile Amsterdam and the other islands of the Southern Ocean. From a biogeographical point of view, 40% of the taxa have a typical cosmopolitan distribution, whereas 22% of all observed species can be considered endemic to Ile Amsterdam, with another 17% species showing a restricted sub-Antarctic distribution. The NMDS analysis, based on a cluster dendrogram, divides the samples into six main groups. For each group, indicator species were determined. Both environmental data and diatom distributions indicate that apart from elevation, specific conductance, pH, and moisture are the major factors determining the structure of moss-inhabiting diatom communities on Ile Amsterdam.

Conclusion – The isolated geographic position and unique climatological and geological features of the island shaped the presence of a unique diatom flora, characterised by many endemic species. The results of the study are of prime importance for further (palaeo-)ecological and biogeographical research.

Bacillariophyta, diatoms, ecology, mosses, Ile Amsterdam, southern Indian Ocean, sub-Antarctic region


  • Chao A. 1984. Non–parametric estimation of the number of classes in a population. Scandinavian Journal of Statistic 11(4): 265–270.
  • Chao A., Hwang W.H., Chen Y.C. & Kuo C.Y. 2000. Estimating the number of shared species in two communities. Statistica Sinica 10(1): 227–246.
  • Chattová B. 2017. Ecology, taxonomy and biogeography of diatoms (Bacillariophyta) of Ile Amsterdam and Ile Saint-Paul (TAAF, Southern Indian Ocean). PhD thesis, Masaryk University, Czech Republic.
  • Chattová B., Lebouvier M. & Van de Vijver B. 2014. Freshwater diatom communities from Ile Amsterdam (TAAF, southern Indian Ocean). Fottea 14(1): 101–119.
  • Chattová B., Lebouvier M., de Haan M. & Van de Vijver B. 2017. The genus Luticola (Bacillariophyta) on Ile Amsterdam and Ile Saint-Paul (Southern Indian Ocean) with the description of two new species. European Journal of Taxonomy 387: 1–17.
  • Chattová B., Lebouvier M. & Van de Vijver B. 2018. Morphological and taxonomical analysis of the terrestrial diatom genus Humidophila (Bacillariophyta) on Ile Amsterdam and Ile Saint-Paul (Southern Indian Ocean). Phytotaxa 336(1): 28–42.
  • Colwell R.K. 2013. EstimateS 9.1.0. Statistical estimation of species richness and shared species from samples. Version 9.1. User’s guide and application. Available from [accessed 15 Sep. 2020].
  • Doucet S., Giret A., Weis D. & Scoates J.S. 2003. Géologie des îles Amsterdam et Saint-Paul. Géologues 137: 10–15.
  • Doucet S., Weis D., Scoates J.S., Debaille V. & Giret A. 2004. Geochemical and Hf–Pb–Sr–Nd isotopic constraints on the origin of the Amsterdam–St. Paul (Indian Ocean) hotspot basalts. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 218(1–2): 179–195.
  • Flatberg K.I., Whinam J. & Lebouvier M. 2011. Three species of Sphagnum endemic to Île Amsterdam, Terres Australes et Antarctiques Françaises: S. cavernulosum sp. nov., S. complanatum sp. nov. and S. islei. Journal of Bryology 33(2): 105–121.
  • Foets J., Wetzel C.E., Teuling A.J. & Pfister L. 2020. Temporal and spatial variability of terrestrial diatoms at the catchment scale: controls on productivity and comparison with other soil algae. PeerJ 8: e9198.
  • Frenot Y., Gloaguen J.C., Massé L. & Lebouvier M. 2001. Human activities, ecosystem disturbance and plant invasions in subantarctic Crozet, Kerguelen and Amsterdam Islands. Biological Conservation 101(1): 33–50.
  • Gillespie R.G. 2007. Oceanic islands: models of diversity. In: Levin S.A. (ed.) Encyclopedia of biodiversity: 1–13. Princeton University, Princeton.
  • Giret A. 1987. Géologie des Terres Australes Françaises. Comité National Français pour les Recherches Antarctiques 58: 17–41.
  • Gremmen N.J.M., Van de Vijver B., Frenot Y. & Lebouvier M. 2007. Distribution of moss-inhabiting diatoms along an altitudinal gradient at sub-Antarctic Îles Kerguelen. Antarctic Science 19(1): 17–24.
  • Heger T.J., Mitchell E.A.D., Ledeganck P., Vincke S., Van de Vijver B. & Beyens L. 2009. The curse of taxonomic uncertainty in biogeographical studies of free-living terrestrial protists: a case study of testate amoebae from Amsterdam Island. Journal of Biogeography 36(8): 1551–1560.
  • Hejduková E., Pinseel E., Vanormelingen P., et al. 2019. Tolerance of pennate diatoms (Bacillariophyceae) to experimental freezing: comparison of polar and temperate strains. Phycologia 58(4): 382–392.
  • Hickman M. & Vitt D.H. 1974. The aerial epiphytic diatom flora of moss species from subantarctic Campbell Island. Nova Hedwigia 24: 443–458.
  • Hofmann G., Werum M. & Lange-Bertalot H. 2011. Diatomeen in Süsswasser–Benthos von Mitteleuropa. A.R. Gantner Verlag KG, Rugell.
  • Jones V.J. 1996. The diversity, distribution and ecology of diatoms from Antarctic inland water. Biodiversity and Conservation 5: 1433–1449.
  • Jung W. 1936. Thecamöben ursprünglicher lebender deutscher Hochmoore. Abhandlungen aus dem Landesmuseum für Naturkunde zu Münster in Westfalen 7(4): 1–87.
  • Kociolek J.P., Kopalová K., Hamsher S.E., et al. 2017. Freshwater diatom biogeography and the genus Luticola: an extreme case of endemism in Antarctica. Polar Biology 40: 1185–1196.
  • Kopalová K., Ochyra R., Nedbalová L. & Van de Vijver B. 2014. Moss-inhabiting diatoms from two contrasting Maritime Antarctic islands. Plant Ecology and Evolution 147(1): 67–84.
  • Kopalová K., Kociolek J.P., Lowe R.L., Zidarova R. & Van de Vijver B. 2015. Five new species of the genus Humidophila (Bacillariophyta) from the Maritime Antarctic Region. Diatom Research 30(2): 117–131.
  • Le Cohu R. & Van de Vijver B. 2002. The diatom genus Diadesmis in the Crozet and Kerguelen Archipelagos with the description of five new species. Annales de Limnologie 38(2): 119–132.
  • Lowe R.L., Kociolek J.P. & Van de Vijver B. 2013. Two new Orthoseira species (Bacillariophyceae) from lava tubes on Île Amsterdam and Big Island (Hawaii). Phytotaxa 111: 39–52.
  • Munson R.K. & Gherini S.A. 1993. Influence of organic acids on the pH and acid neutralizing capacity of Adirondack Lakes. Water Resources Research 29(4): 891–899.
  • Oksanen J., Blanchet F.G., Friendly M., et al. 2018. vegan: community ecology package. R package version 2.4-6. Available from [accessed 15 Sep. 2020].
  • Pfister L., Wetzel C.E., Klaus J., et al. 2017. Terrestrial diatoms as tracers in catchment hydrology: a review. WIREs Water 4(6): e1241.
  • Pinseel E., Kulichová J., Scharfen V., Urbánková P., Van de Vijver B. & Vyverman W. 2019. Extensive cryptic diversity in the terrestrial diatom Pinnularia borealis (Bacillariophyceae). Protist 170(2): 121–140.
  • R Core Team 2017. R: a language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna. Available from [accessed 15 Sep. 2020].
  • RStudio Team 2015. RStudio: integrated development for R. RStudio, Inc, Boston. Available from [accessed 15 Sep. 2020].
  • Sabbe K., Verleyen E., Hodgson D.A., Vanhoutte K. & Vyverman W. 2003. Benthic diatom flora of freshwater and saline lakes in the Larsemann Hills and Rauer Islands, East Antarctica. Antarctic Science 15(2): 227–248.
  • Siegel D.I., Glaser P.H., So J. & Janecky D.R. 2006. The dynamic balance between organic acids and circumneutral groundwater in a large boreal peat basin. Journal of Hydrology 320(3–4): 421–431.
  • Souffreau C., Vanormelingen P., Verleyen E., Sabbe K. & Vyverman W. 2010. Tolerance of benthic diatoms from temperate aquatic and terrestrial habitats to experimental desiccation and temperature stress. Phycologia 49(4): 309–324.
  • Souffreau C., Vanormelingen P., Sabbe K. & Vyverman W. 2013a. Tolerance of resting cells of freshwater and terrestrial benthic diatoms to experimental desiccation and freezing is habitat-dependent. Phycologia 52(3): 246–255.
  • Souffreau C., Vanormelingen P., Van de Vijver B., et al. 2013b. Molecular evidence for distinct Antarctic lineages in the cosmopolitan terrestrial diatoms Pinnularia borealis and Hantzschia amphioxys. Protist 164(1): 101–115.
  • Sørensen T. 1948. A method of establishing groups of equal amplitude in plant sociology based on similarity of species content. Det Kongelige Danske Videnskabernes Selskabs Skrifter 54: 1–34.
  • Tréhen P., Frenot, Y., Lebouvier M. & Vernon P. 1990. Invertebrate fauna and their role in the degradation of cattle dung at Amsterdam Island. In: Kerry K.R. & Hempel G. (eds) Antarctic ecosystems ecological change and conservation: 337–346. Springer, Berlin & Heidelberg.
  • Van de Vijver B. & Beyens L. 1999b. Moss diatom communities from Ile de la Possession (Crozet, Subantarctica) and their relationship with moisture. Polar Biology 22: 232–240.
  • Van de Vijver B. & Beyens L. 1999c. Première contribution à la flore diatomique de l’Île Amsterdam (Terres Australes et Antarctiques Françaises). Annales de Limnologie 35(2): 85–94.
  • Van de Vijver B. & Cox E.J. 2013. New and interesting small-celled naviculoid diatoms (Bacillariophyceae) from a lava tube cave on Île Amsterdam (TAAF, southern Island Ocean). Cryptogamie, Algologie 34(1): 37–47.
  • Van de Vijver B., Ledeganck P. & Beyens L. 2001. Habitat preferences in freshwater diatom communities from sub-Antarctic Iles Kerguelen. Antarctic Science 13(1): 28–36.
  • Van de Vijver B., Frenot Y. & Beyens L. 2002a. Freshwater diatoms from Ile de la Possession (Crozet Archipelago, Subantarctica). Bibliotheca Diatomologica 46: 1–412.
  • Van de Vijver B., Ledeganck P. & Beyens L. 2002c. Three new species of Diadesmis from soils of Ile de la Possession (Crozet Archipelago, Subantarctic). Cryptogamie, Algologie 23(4): 333–341.
  • Van de Vijver B., Beyens L. & Lange-Bertalot H. 2004a. The genus Stauroneis in the Arctic and (Sub-)Antarctic Regions. Bibliotheca Diatomologica 51: 1–311.
  • Van de Vijver B., Gremmen N.J.M. & Smith V. 2008b. Diatom communities from the Sub-Antarctic Prince Edward Islands: diversity and distribution patterns. Polar Biology 31: 795–808.
  • Van de Vijver B., Zidarova R., Sterken M., Verleyen E., de Haan M., Vyverman W., Hinz F. & Sabbe K. 2011. Revision of the genus Navicula s.s. (Bacillariophyceae) in inland waters of the Sub-Antarctic and Antarctic with the description of five new species. Phycologia 50(3): 281–297.
  • Van de Vijver B., Chattová B., Metzeltin D. & Lebouvier M. 2012. The genus Pinnularia (Bacillariophyta) on Île Amsterdam (TAAF, Southern Indian Ocean). Nova Hedwigia Beihefte 141: 201–236.
  • Van de Vijver B., de Haan M. & Lange-Bertalot H. 2014a. Revision of the genus Eunotia (Bacillariophyta) in the Antarctic Region. Plant Ecology and Evolution 147(2): 256–284.
  • Van de Vijver B., Kopalová K., Zidarova R. & Levkov Z. 2014b. Revision of the genus Halamphora (Bacillariophyta) in the Antarctic Region. Plant Ecology and Evolution 147(3): 374–391.
  • Van de Vijver B., Chattová B., Lebouvier M. & Houk V. 2017. Ferocia gen. nov., a new centric diatom genus (Bacillariophyceae) from the sub-Antarctic region. Phytotaxa 332(1): 22–30.
  • van der Werff A. 1955. A new method for cleaning and concentrating diatoms and other organisms. Verhandlungen der Internationalen Vereinigung für theoretische und angewandte Limnologie 12: 276–277.
  • Wetzel C.E., Ector L., Van de Vijver B., Compère P. & Mann D.G. 2015. Morphology, typification and critical analysis of some ecologically important small naviculoid species (Bacillariophyta). Fottea 15(2): 203–234.
  • Wickham H. 2016. ggplot2: elegant graphics for data analysis. Springer-Verlag, New York.
  • Zidarova R., Kopalová K. & Van de Vijver B. 2016. Diatoms from the Antarctic Region. I: Maritime Antarctica. Iconographia Diatomologica 24: 1–504.