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Wednesday, April 26 • 12:30pm - 2:00pm
Analysis of testate amoeba biomass and biodiversity as indicators of ecological success in Sandy Bottom, Asheville, North Carolina

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Testate amoebae are unicellular, heterotrophic protists that live in a range of wetlands and soils. Their abundance and diversity have been used to assess hydrological and soil quality measures, including pH, soil elemental C and N rations, degree of light penetrance, and level of ecological disturbance. Thus, quantifying the number of testate amoebae and tracking their diversity can elucidate relationships among different ecological parameters and degrees of variability. Samples collected from various ecological niches in Sandy Bottoms, North Carolina, during the summer of 2016, reveal differences in testate amoebae biomass and biodiversity. Quantitative lycopodium concentrations were used to establish baseline density in each sample to standardize testate amoeba counts. This method was chosen to ensure accurate sampling of testate amoebae at each site for quality control and repeatability. Sites chosen away from the trail and further from the road were hypothesized to support greater ecological success than trail. Analysis of samples consisted of pH, LOI (loss-on-ignition), CEC (cation exchange capacity) BS%, major elemental concentrations, humic matter, and water depth at sample site. CEC and major elemental concentrations were tested to calculate soil saturation and nutrient quality. Humic matter (not total organic matter) and W/V (disturbed bulk density) were also measured to determine the weight of soil in a given volume and assess porosity. Statistical analysis including Shannon’s index, multivariate ordinations, and descriptive statistics were utilized. Although we did not test for pollution biomarkers or major ion levels, it can be inferred that less availability and diversity of testate amoeba could be the result of ecological disturbance. Our study has implications for assessing habitat quality through testate amoeba analysis, but further testing is necessary to understand how certain species come to inhabit specific sites, and the physiological mechanisms that enable them to thrive.

Wednesday April 26, 2017 12:30pm - 2:00pm
Concourse - Wilma Sherrill Center

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