Examining the dynamic nature of epiphytic microalgae in the Florida Keys: What factors influence community composition?
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Examining the dynamic nature of epiphytic microalgae in the Florida Keys: What factors influence community composition?

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  • Journal Title:
    Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology
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    The factors that influence the composition of marine epiphytic microalgal assemblages are poorly-understood. To address this short-coming, 93 samples were collected from four distinct regions in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (FKNMS) during winter and summer months to test the model that epiphytic microalgal communities are influenced by environmental gradients related to different sites, seasons, and host macrophyte species. One hundred and eighty-three morphotypes from 13 classes (7 phyla) were identified, dominated by 106 Bacillariophyta (77 identified to species equivalent or below), 37 Cyanophyta (13 identified to species equivalent or below), and 30 Dinophyta (21 identified to species equivalent or below). The largest proportion of variability in epiphytic communities was related to physico-chemical parameters (37%), followed by site location (ocean- versus bayside; 15%), seasonal differences (11%), and host macrophyte species (10%). Four physico-chemical variables were found to be most influential: wave height, temperature, ammonium concentration, and salinity. Only six out of 616 epiphyte – host comparisons exhibited significant differences in individual epiphyte taxon abundance between different host species (within site and season), further demonstrating that host-specificity was not strongly evident in this study. Overall, the results of this (sub)tropical study indicate that changing environmental characteristics between sites and seasons were the primary drivers influencing epiphyte community composition. Similar findings were found in an accompanying study of phytoplankton and other studies from temperate and (sub)polar regions, suggesting that common, underlying processes exist among these disparate environments.
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    Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 538, 151538
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    0022-0981
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    Accepted Manuscript
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    Library
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