Multivariate analysis of protist communities in lentic systems

TitleMultivariate analysis of protist communities in lentic systems
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1986
AuthorsStewart PM, Smith EP, Pratt JR, McCormick PV, Jr. JCairns
JournalJournal of Protozoology

The purpose of this research was to examine the roles of physico-chemical parameters in structuring protist communities that colonize artificial substrates. Polyurethane foam (PF) substrates were placed in five lentic systems in northern lower Michigan during summer 1983. These lentic habitats represented a range of trophic states and included three lakes, a bog, and a marsh. Triplicate PF substrates were sampled after 1,3,7,14,21, and 42 days of exposure. During this study, 90 living protist samples were examined for the number and kinds of species. Water samples were analyzed for pH, conductivity, alkalinity, chloride, silica, temperature, dissolved oxygen, ammonia, and total and ortho-phosphate concurrent with artificial substrate collections. A total of 546 protist species was recorded. Only seven species were found in over 50% of the samples and 121 species were found in only one sample. The 96 most common species were examined in relation to environmental parameters using several multivariate statistical procedures. Factor analysis (principal components with varimax rotation) performed on the total environmental data set showed that three composite factors explained 85% of the variability of the data set. A reciprocal averaging ordination (RAO) was used to reduce species presence/absence data and to separate samples graphically by their species composition. Significant correlations, with RAO-generated axes from all five systems, were found for pH, oxygen, and a nutrient factor to axis 1. Factor analysis on the physico-chemical parameters of the three lakes showed that three factors explained 71% of the environmental data set variability. The RAO-generated axis (axis 1) was correlated with silica, ortho-phosphate, and Factor 2, which was primarily comprised of loadings from ortho-phosphate. These techniques support the hypothesis that a limited number of environmental parameters strongly affect protist community composition.