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DIATOMS (BACILLARIOPHYTA) OF ISOLATED ISLANDS: NEW TAXA IN THE GENUS NAVICULA SENSU STRICTO FROM THE GALáPAGOS ISLANDS

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  • Received 9 April 2010. Accepted 24 January 2011.

Abstract

The diatoms (Bacillariophyta) from a coastal lagoon from the Diablas wetlands (Isla Isabela, the Galápagos Islands) were studied in material from surface samples and a sediment core spanning the past 2,700 years in order to examine evidence of diatom evolution under geographic isolation. The total number of taxa found was ∼100. Ultrastructural variation in valve morphology between members of Galápagos taxa was used to describe 10 species from the genus Navicula sensu stricto, which are new to science. Four taxa: N. isabelensis, N. isabelensoides, N. isabelensiformis, and N. isabelensiminor, shared several key characteristics that may be indicative of a common evolutionary heritage; these species therefore provide possible evidence for the in situ evolution of diatoms in the Galápagos coastal lagoons. Shared morphological characteristics include: (i) stria patterning in the central area, (ii) an elevated and thickened external raphe-sternum, (iii) external central raphe endings that are slightly deflected toward the valve primary side, and (iv) an arched valve surface. To explain these findings, two models were proposed. The first suggested limited lateral diatomaceous transport of Navicula species between the Galápagos and continental South America. Alternatively, these new species may be ecological specialists arising from the unique environmental conditions of the Galápagos coastal lagoons, which restrict the colonization of common diatom taxa and enable the establishment of novel, rare species. The Diablas wetlands are an important site for diatom research, where local-scale environmental changes have combined with global-scale biogeographic processes resulting in unique diatom assemblages.

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