Microbial mats develop in a wide variety of environments such as hot springs, hypersaline ponds, dry and hot deserts, alkaline lakes and coastal intertidal sediments (Cohen et al. 1984; Cohen and Rosenberg 1989). A noticeable similarity of these environments is their relative low species diversity. Particularly, multicellular organisms are excluded from such environments and it has been conceived that the absence or limited activity of grazing organisms is an important prerequisite for the development of microbial mats (Walter 1976). At first sight such conditions seem not to apply to coastal environments. However, intertidal sediments are alternatingly inundated and exposed to the atmosphere and this will cause fluctuations of water content, salinity and temperature. Fluctuations of environmental conditions are more extreme in the higher parts of the intertidal flats where microbial mats develop particularly well (Stal et al. 1985; Pierson et al. 1987).
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- Microbial mats in coastal environments
Lucas J. Stal
- Springer Berlin Heidelberg