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Title: Quantifying the desmid diversity of Scottish blanket mires
Author: Goodyer, Emma
ISNI:       0000 0004 5357 0031
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2014
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For the first time, presented within this thesis, is an investigation into the species richness and community composition of a group of beautiful but taxonomically challenging green algae - the desmids. This thesis represents the first account of a systematic sampling approach for desmid species and community assemblages in relation to national and local environmental variation. Sampling was focused on intact blanket mire with the aim of capturing a rich baseline dataset of desmid diversity. Previous works had highlighted desmids as being especially species rich in these acidic, nutrient-poor peatland habitats. A nested sampling approach was used to collect desmids from blanket mire microhabitats along the hummock-pool microtopographic gradient, from sites nationally within Scotland. This approach revealed remarkable species richness with 202 taxa sampled, including one new species. Distinct desmid communities were found to be strongly associated with the hummock-lawn-pool microhabitats within patterned blanket mire. This topographic aspect of peatland structure and its associated co-variables (such as pH and water table depth) also have a strong link to desmid diversity with the richest communities being found in association with a consistent supply of water close to the water table. Generally, ‘unstable' habitats supported lower desmid diversity. A field experiment was established to investigate the effects of drainage and drain restoration on desmid communities. This highlighted the loss of desmid diversity in drained peatlands and a successful but slow recovery of diversity upon restoration through drain blocking. The findings of this PhD project provide an understanding of the spatial scale of desmid community structure and the factors which are important for informing future conservation strategies for peatland habitats to maintain the diversity of this fascinating microbial group.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Scottish Natural Heritage ; Scottish Environment Protection Agency
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Desmidiaceae ; Peat bogs