This interesting piece on new testate amoeba research in the Amazon by Graeme Swindles and colleagues is written by Bob Booth from Lehigh University, USA on the ‘From inside the shell’ blog on testate research. It’s well worth a read as it highlights just how useful and diverse these tiny organisms can be. It’s not every day on fieldwork you have to divert your sampling transect to avoid snakes…
Sampling testate amoebae in a tropical peatland. A recent paper in Microbial Ecology by Swindles et al. suggests that testate amoebae have good potential as hydrological indicators in tropical peatlands.
Testate amoebae have been successfully used as indicators of past changes in peatland hydrology, particularly ombrotrophic (i.e., nutrients derived exclusively from precipitation) peatlands of north-temperate and boreal regions. Over the past couple decades, many ecological studies of testate amoebae have been performed in these northern bogs, allowing empirical relationships between community composition and surface moisture to be described. Because the shells of testate amoebae preserve well in the acidic and anaerobic environment of bogs, these modern relationships have been used to infer past changes in the relative wetness of the bog surface from the composition of subfossil communities. Much recent work has focused on the validation and interpretation of testate amoeba paleohydrological records from bogs, and their application to pressing global change questions.
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