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Why Do Diatoms Move? Part 2

Posted by on in Microscapes
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In an earlier post I asked why certain diatoms moved when they had no need to search for food and no need to find a partner to reproduce. A recent enquiry to the 'Amateur Diatomist' website has resulted in this very informative reply:

"Lots has been written about the mechanism of diatom motility but little about why they might need to move. Whilst I am not qualified to explain all the reasons for their behaviour a couple of observable examples might suffice to set you on the right track....

Consider the episammic (living on sand) or the epipelon (living on mud) species where their habitat is governed by the tides. When the tide is in the diatoms can be found on the surface of their chosen substrate, when the tide goes out they are found within their substrate. They have moved to ensure they do not dessicate. Another example are those species found living on rocks in streams. They coat the upper surface of, say, a pebble. Should a storm suddenly cause the flow to increase to such a degree that it turns that pebble the diatoms will move to upper surface when things quieten down. This latter example can be observed by turning a colonised pebble by hand and returning the next day.
I hope these simple examples provide you with an answer (at least in part). Steve."
For anyone interested in diatom studies you'll find lots of useful information on the Amateur Diatomist website. www.diatoms.co.uk
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Tagged in: Diatom Environment