Response of testate amoebae to a late Holocene ecosystem shift in an Amazonian peatland

Graeme T. Swindles, Thomas J. Kelly, Katherine H. Roucoux, Ian T. Lawson

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To date there have only been two studies using testate amoebae as palaeoecological indicators in tropical peatlands. Here we present a new ∼500-year testate amoeba record from San Jorge, a domed peatland in Peruvian Amazonia, which has a well-constrained vegetation history based on pollen analysis. We observe a major shift from Hyalosphenia subflava to Cryptodifflugia oviformis-dominated communities at ∼50 cm depth (c. AD 1760), which suggests a change to drier conditions in the peatland. The application of a statistical transfer function also suggests a deepening of the water table at this time. The transition in the microbial assemblage occurs at a time when pollen and geochemical data indicate drier conditions (reduced influence of river flooding), leading to an ecosystem switch to more ombrotrophic-like conditions in the peatland. Our work illustrates the potential of testate amoebae as important tools in tropical peatland palaeoecology, and the power of multiproxy approaches for understanding the long-term development of tropical peatlands.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13-19
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Journal of Protistology
Early online date15 Mar 2018
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2018


  • Amazonia
  • Amazon Rainforest
  • Palaeohydrology
  • Testate amoebae
  • Tropical peatlands


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