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Diatom Assemblages in Soil: Implications in Palaeo-Ecological Interpretations

Neera Sen Sarkar, Manjushree Mandal, Biswajit Biswas


Diatoms are microscopic, unicellular, eukaryotic algae belonging to the Class Bacillariophyceae which are abundant in most aquatic habitats and serve as useful proxies for multi-dimensional analysis of ecosystems. They inhabit waters and soils of both saline and freshwater areas. Diatoms as primary producers are vital for life on Earth, serve as significant source of oxygen, have major impact on global carbon cycle and are food source for many organisms at other trophic levels. Moreover, diatoms provide an exceptional tool for examining environmental changes. Data on diatom abundance and diversity, both living and fossil are found to be very useful in environmental studies, since they are extremely sensitive to and respond rapidly to environmental changes with specific species being adapted to a particular environment. Most importantly, after death their silica frustules sink to the bottom, get added to the sedimentary records and preserve well within most sediments as diatomaceous earth. Diatom analysis has been undertaken across all continents to reconstruct past environments and a lot of attention goes out to develop techniques of modeling recent climate variability. Such diatom assemblages preserved at variable depths in sedimentary sequences have proven to be excellent proxies for inferring climate change events, catastrophic events and other stochastic variability of the environment. The diatom assemblages are also interpreted in combination with geochemistry and sedimentary characteristics for complete reconstructions of past environments and logical modeling for future trends. The present paper is a review of the available publications that have added to the significance of diatom assemblages in soil as palaeo-ecological indicators.

Keywords: Soil diatoms, palaeo-ecology, environmental history, palaeo-ecological proxies

Cite this Article
Manjushree Mandal, Biswajit Biswas, Neera Sen Sarkar, Diatom Assemblages in Soil: Implications in Palaeo-Ecological Interpretations Research and Reviews: Journal of Botany. 2015; 4(1): 16–25p.

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