Ecology of testate amoebae (thecamoebians) in subtropical Florida lakes
ABSTRACT Fifty-seven surface sediment samples from 35 Florida lakes were collected to study testate amoebae. Seven genera, 17 species,
and 28 strains were identified in the 46 sediment samples from 31 lakes that contained testate rhizopods. Seven species accounted
for ≥90% of the individuals in all samples. Sediment total phosphorus (TPsed), organic matter (OM), and total carbon:total
nitrogen ratio (TC:TN) were measured to assess the effect of these variables on thecamoebian assemblages. OM content was the
only sediment variable that influenced presence/absence of thecamoebians. Samples with <5% OM contained no thecamoebians.
Lakes with multiple surface sediment samples showed high Morisita–Horn similarity values (0.74–0.99), indicating that all
sites at which samples were collected in a lake provided representative thecamoebian assemblages. No relationship was observed
between thecamoebian diversity indices and sediment variables. Lake trophic state and pH were examined to explore potential
water column influences on thecamoebian communities. Highest thecamoebian diversity indices were found in mesotrophic to eutrophic
lakes with pH near 8.0. These results suggest that water column conditions have a greater influence on thecamoebian assemblages
than do sediment variables. We used multivariate analysis to evaluate the relations between water quality variables and testate
rhizopod assemblages. Canonical correspondence analysis (CCA) showed that alkalinity and pH are the water column variables
that most influence the relative abundance of species. Thecamoebians thus hold promise as bioindicators of acidification in
Florida lakes. Thecamoebian remains in lake sediment cores should be useful to infer past anthropogenic shifts in lake pH.