Benthic diatoms of the Vistula River estuary (Northern Poland): Seasonality, substrata preferences, and the influence of water chemistry


  • Communicating editor: M. L. Julius.



Seasonal studies of water bodies in separate branches of the Vistula River estuary in Northern Poland were conducted over 30 months from May 2005 to October 2007. Diatom samples were collected from different substrata from two sites located in the river mouth, which has physical characteristics as a result of a complex interplay of natural and human influences that have taken place over the last 100+ years. The diatom flora growing on hard surfaces near the river banks such as sand, muddy sand, rocks, macroscopic green algae and/or vascular aquatic plants was recorded. All diatom taxa collected were distinguished based on their morphological features using light (LM) and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). A total of 187 species belonging to 61 genera were identified. A canonical correspondence analysis indicated that the diatom assemblages were definitely associated with salinity as well as nutrient concentrations and substratum type. During the study, malformations of diatom valves were observed in 48% of the microphytobenthos samples. Abnormal outline morphology and ornamentation deformities in several individuals of nine different species were recorded, which were mainly in epilithic and epiphytic communities collected from spring to autumn.