Role of macrophyte life forms in driving periphytic microalgal assemblages in a Brazilian reservoir


  • Ubirajara L. Fernandes | Universidade Regional do Cariri, Brazil.
  • Elaine C.C. de Oliveira Universidade Regional do Cariri, Brazil.
  • Sírleis R. Lacerda Universidade Regional do Cariri, Brazil.


Macrophytes play several roles in aquatic ecosystems, including the provision of habitat for many aquatic organisms, especially the periphyton. The aims of this study were to characterize the structure of periphytic microalgal assemblages on different aquatic macrophyte life forms in order to establish similarities between assemblages from nearby sampling sites. We hypothesized that i) aquatic macrophytes with different life forms and morphological characteristics could differently influence the structure of the periphyton and that ii) the greatest similarity in periphyton composition should be observed among macrophytes that occupy the same sampling site. The study was conducted from 2006 to 2008 in the Thomaz Osterne de Alencar reservoir (Crato City, Ceará State, Brazil) and involved the taxonomic surveying of microalgae attached to five different macrophytes with the application of structural descriptors (richness, abundance, frequency, diversity and equitability). A total of 127 taxa, of which 44% belonged to the Chlorophyta, were identified. The microalgae assemblages showed high species richness on Salvinia auriculata Aubl., a free-floating macrophyte, and large abundance on Apalanthe granatensis (Humb. & Bonpl.) Planch., a submerged anchored macrophyte. ANOVA indicated that periphyton significantly varied among the macrophytes investigated, and nearby sampling sites showed no structural similarities in microalgal assemblages. In general, we can conclude that the structure of periphyton assemblages is influenced by the substrate (i.e., macrophyte organ), as this can not only promote high diversity and equitability but can also be a predictor of dissimilarity in the distribution and frequency of occurrence of microalgae. These results reinforce the findings of other studies that have shown that macrophytes play an important role in structuring the periphyton assemblages.



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Original Articles
Supporting Agencies
Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq)
Microalgae distribution, periphyton, natural substrate, aquatic vegetation.
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How to Cite
Fernandes UL, de Oliveira EC, Lacerda SR. Role of macrophyte life forms in driving periphytic microalgal assemblages in a Brazilian reservoir. J Limnol [Internet]. 2015 Aug. 11 [cited 2021 Jun. 24];75(1). Available from: