Abiotic autumnal organic matter deposition and grazing disturbance effects on epilithic biofilm succession.
This study investigates the dynamics of protozoan community in biofilms formed on inert artificial surfaces suspended in various freshwater environments. The results also test the hypothesis that the dynamics of protozoan and microalgal communities in biofilms are interdependent because the latter form one of the major food items of benthic protozoa. Cleaned glass slides were suspended in surface waters at four sampling locations to collect biofilm communities. The glass slides after retrieval were observed under a microscope for diatom and protozoan density and their generic composition. Members of protozoa belonging to phylum Sarcomastigophora dominated the protozoan community followed by phylum Ciliophora in all sampling locations. The variation of protozoan feeding groups showed an initial abundance of autotrophs/holophytes which gave way to heterotrophs, predators, and bacterivores towards the end of the study. The density and generic composition of protozoa varied significantly with the age of biofilm and sampling location. The density variation of protozoa followed that of diatoms in all four sampling locations and this has resulted in a significant positive correlation between diatom and protozoan densities. This suggests the dependency and/or food web connectedness of these two communities in natural biofilms.