Temporal and spatial variability of terrestrial diatoms at the catchment scale: Controls on communities

Jasper Foets*, Carlos E. Wetzel, Adriaan J. Teuling, Laurent Pfister

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Diatoms are generally regarded as inhabitants of water bodies. However, numerous taxa are able to survive and reproduce in a variety of non-aquatic ecosystems. Although terrestrial diatoms are discussed extensively in the literature, most of those studies covered floristic aspects and few information exists on their ecology. This lack of knowledge thwarts their potential use as environmental markers in various applications. As a way forward, we investigated the seasonal patterns and the role of different disturbances on the community composition. We collected soil diatom samples in 16 sites across the Attert River basin (Luxembourg) every 4 weeks for a period of 14 months. Our results indicate that forests create a stable microhabitat for diatoms and that temporal variation of the diatom communities is mainly controlled by farming practices rather than seasonal changes in environmental variables. We also found out that communities need one to 2 months to reestablish a new, stable community after a significant change in the environment. We were able to confirm the applicability of the Pollution-Sensitivity Index (IPS) to identify anthropic disturbances.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8296
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2020


  • Agriculture
  • Algae
  • Ecology
  • Indicator species
  • Soil


Dive into the research topics of 'Temporal and spatial variability of terrestrial diatoms at the catchment scale: Controls on communities'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this