• Open Access

Contrasting seasonal niche separation between rare and abundant taxa conceals the extent of protist diversity


Jens Boenigk, Fax: +43 6232 3578; E-mail: jens.boenigk@oeaw.ac.at and
Christian Schlötterer, Fax: +43 1 25077 4390; E-mail: christian.schloetterer@vetmeduni.ac.at


With the advent of molecular methods, it became clear that microbial biodiversity had been vastly underestimated. Since then, species abundance patterns were determined for several environments, but temporal changes in species composition were not studied to the same level of resolution. Using massively parallel sequencing on the 454 GS FLX platform we identified a highly dynamic turnover of the seasonal abundance of protists in the Austrian lake Fuschlsee. We show that seasonal abundance patterns of protists closely match their biogeographic distribution. The stable predominance of few highly abundant taxa, which previously led to the suggestion of a low global protist species richness, is contrasted by a highly dynamic turnover of rare species. We suggest that differential seasonality of rare and abundant protist taxa explains the—so far—conflicting evidence in the ‘everything is everywhere’ dispute. Consequently temporal sampling is basic for adequate diversity and species richness estimates.