Diatoms are microscopic algae and characterized by their unique silica based cell wall with species-specific ornamentation. Diatoms are incredibly species rich with nearly 20,000 known species and few hundred thousands of species are yet to be described. The silica cell walls, called frustules show a wide diversity in form and shapes but usually groups diatoms into two types pinnate (elongated shape) and centric (Circular shape). They potentially account for 40% of the world's primary production, generate much of the energy that drives aquatic ecosystem.
Being placed at the basic of the food chain, they also regulate biodiversity at all levels of food chain. They are found to grow abundantly as a thick brown mat or on submerged plants or on sediment top, and in every type of environment such as rivers, streams, lakes, waterfalls and wetlands. Diatom communities are tested to be potential tool for monitoring environmental conditions, commonly used in water quality studies. Distribution and presence of each diatom species is influenced by land use type and water quality parameters. Diatom distribution is unique to varying environments that vary from one region to another. In this context, "SimRiver" - part of the DiatomProject is one such attempt in this direction to study the relationship between presence of diatom species at respective watershed region either it could be forest or human settlements.
Projects that have been pursued under this theme are:
- Ecological Explorations
- DiatomProject: SimRiver
- Stream scape ecology and conservation in fragmented landscape in central Western Ghats using diatoms and amphibians and systems approach
New Book from the Labs!
An Illustrated Guide to Common Diatoms of Peninsular India by B. Karthick, P. B. Hamilton & J. P. Kociolek
The book, "An Illustrated Guide to Common Diatoms of Peninsular India" is a first of its kind in India, which illustrates most common diatom species of Peninsular India. This has been authored by Dr. Karthick Bala, Prof. Paul Hamilton and Prof. Pat Kociolek. The guide has been compiled for those who wish to begin a study of the diatom flora of Peninsular India. This book covers characteristics description of 182 taxa belonging to 50 genera with photographically illustrated (Light Microscopy and Scanning Electron Microscopy images) along with notes on species habitation and ecology. An introduction to diatoms and its taxonomy along with protocols for collection and enumeration of diatoms has been provided in detail to make the diatom study easy. This book serves as an introduction to the common species found in fresh and brackish inland waters. This publication will serve to inspire interest in diatom taxonomy and ecology among young students and researchers.Get your copy from Amazon.