Phytoplankton species diversity of 27 lakes and ponds of Costa Rica (Central America)
Umana Villalobos, Gerardo.
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The literature on species diversity of phytoplankton of tropical lakes is scarce, and for the main part comes from studies of the big lakes in Africa, or deep lakes in South America, leaving a gap in the information about small shallow tropical lakes. In the present work the phytoplankton species composition and diversity of 27 shallow lakes and ponds in Costa Rica (Central America) was studied. The species composition was found to agree with other studies of tropical lakes, with a dominance of Chlorophyta, Cyanophyta, or in some cases Bacillariophyta or Euglenophyta; and a general paucity of Chrysophyta and Cryptophyta. Species richness varied considerably among the lakes, and tended to decrease with an increase in lake elevation. A low evenness in the species abundances was found, with one or more species outnumbering the rest by several orders of magnitude. Individual species abundances and species composition was found to vary with time in Rio Cuarto Lake, a meromictic lake situated in a region with low seasonal change in precipitation. In comparison with the phytoplankton of temperate lakes, the phytoplankton of the tropical lakes studied tended to have a lower evenness of species abundances, although species richness may be similar to temperate figures in some cases. Diversity indices sensitive to changes in the abundance of rare species tend to be higher in the tropical lakes studied; diversity indices sensitive to changes in the numbers of abundant species tend to be similar between the temperate and tropical lakes examined.