Epiphytic diatom assemblages associated with South African kelps: Ecklonia maxima and Laminaria pallida
Mayombo, Ntambwe Albert Serge
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Kelp forests are dynamic and productive ecosystems which host large biodiversity of sessile fauna and flora, including diatoms. These microalgae occur at the base of coastal marine food webs and contribute substantially to the productivity of marine ecosystems. Diatoms constitute one of the most common and species-rich groups of both phytoplankton and phytobenthos. Possessing a unique silica cell wall, diatoms play a key role in the global carbon and silicon cycles. As the changes in species composition of diatom communities are a direct reaction to the combination of environmental factors prevailing in their ecosystems, diatom analysis is widely and successfully used in biomonitoring of various environmental conditions and paleoecological reconstructions.