Seasonal succession of the travertine-forming desmid Oocardium stratum

J Phycol. 2015 Dec;51(6):1055-65. doi: 10.1111/jpy.12345. Epub 2015 Oct 19.


The calcifying Conjugatophyte Oocardium stratum occurs exclusively in spring-associated limestones (SAL) with active meteogene limestone deposition. The macroscopic colonies of Oocardium stratum form hemispherical, pinhead-like structures with a diameter of 0.5-2.0 mm. As its autecology is still poorly understood, we focused on the seasonal development of Oocardium stratum and linked environmental factors to its abundance. The study was conducted in a rivulet in Lunz/See (Austria) for 16 months on a weekly (growing season) to monthly (winter season) basis. Oocardium colonies were found throughout the whole year, with maximum abundance during the mid-summer months July and August. Repeated macro-mapping of three SAL sites measuring 750 cm(2) each showed a maximum Oocardium cover of around 30% in August; two smaller peaks developed in early summer and late autumn with ~10% cover. Diatom mats dominated by Cymbella excisiformis occurred in spring, autumn and winter, with more than 75% cover. The seasonal change between Oocardium and diatoms in limestone-precipitating springs causes a typical sequence pattern of limestone layers. Redundancy analysis revealed water temperature and bicarbonate content as the main structuring factors; these control the occurrence and growth of Oocardium, reflecting season as a background variable. Optimum growth conditions for Oocardium were an alkalinity around 4.7 meq · L(-1) and a water temperature around 13°C. Site openness, nitrate and dissolved carbon dioxide were inversely related to Oocardium biomass, the opposite for diatoms. Other environmental factors such as total ions or soluble reactive phosphorus had no significant influence on Oocardium stratum abundance.

Keywords: SAL; alkalinity; calcification; diatom; spring; travertine; tufa.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't