Phytoplankton in extreme environments: importance and consequences of habitat permanency

Luigi Naselli Flores, Judit Padisák

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


There is hardly any sunshine exposed surface on this Earth, be it water or terrain, which would not support some biota. Still, many habitats offer harsh conditions requiring specialized physiological adaptations to survive. These environments are referred to as extremes; often inhabited by extremophilic organisms. In this review, characteristic species and assemblage properties of phytoplankton inhabiting extreme environments (especially lakes and pools where planktic life is potentially possible and independently of their origin) in terms of alkalinity, acidity, DOC, salinity, temperature, light and mixing regime will be outlined. Lakes characterized by more than a single extreme are common (e.g. saline + alkaline; acidic + high DOC + high metal content + low light). At the edge of extremes (e.g. pH of 1; salinity over ~ 100–150 g l−1) single species with appropriate physiological adaptation are selected and the phytoplankton is often dominated by a single species (monodominant) setting compositional diversity to zero. Under less extreme conditions permanent equilibria may persist; in many cases over several years in contrast to „average” lakes where equilibria are rare and ephemeral. Food webs depending on „extreme phytoplankton” are often atypical for example because the microbial loop is of prior importance or because birds are top predators.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)157-176
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Aquatic Science


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