Ecology of Testate Amoebae in an Amazonian Peatland and Development of a Transfer Function for Palaeohydrological Reconstruction

Graeme T. Swindles*, Monika Reczuga, Mariusz Lamentowicz, Cassandra L. Raby, T. Edward Turner, Dan J. Charman, Angela Gallego-Sala, Elvis Valderrama, Christopher Williams, Frederick Draper, Euridice N. Honorio Coronado, Katherine H. Roucoux, Tim Baker, Donal J. Mullan

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    59 Citations (Scopus)


    Tropical peatlands represent globally important carbon sinks with a unique biodiversity and are currently threatened by climate change and human activities. It is now imperative that proxy methods are developed to understand the ecohydrological dynamics of these systems and for testing peatland development models. Testate amoebae have been used as environmental indicators in ecological and palaeoecological studies of peatlands, primarily in ombrotrophic Sphagnum-dominated peatlands in the mid- and high-latitudes. We present the first ecological analysis of testate amoebae in a tropical peatland, a nutrient-poor domed bog in western (Peruvian) Amazonia. Litter samples were collected from different hydrological microforms (hummock to pool) along a transect from the edge to the interior of the peatland. We recorded 47 taxa from 21 genera. The most common taxa are Cryptodifflugia oviformis, Euglypha rotunda type, Phryganella acropodia, Pseudodifflugia fulva type and Trinema lineare. One species found only in the southern hemisphere, Argynnia spicata, is present. Arcella spp., Centropyxis aculeata and Lesqueresia spiralis are indicators of pools containing standing water. Canonical correspondence analysis and non-metric multidimensional scaling illustrate that water table depth is a significant control on the distribution of testate amoebae, similar to the results from mid- and high-latitude peatlands. A transfer function model for water table based on weighted averaging partial least-squares (WAPLS) regression is presented and performs well under cross-validation (r). The transfer function was applied to a 1-m peat core, and sample-specific reconstruction errors were generated using bootstrapping. The reconstruction generally suggests near-surface water tables over the last 3,000 years, with a shift to drier conditions at c. cal. 1218-1273 AD.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)284-298
    Number of pages15
    JournalMicrobial Ecology
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Aug 2014


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