Artificial substrata have been used in diatom studies for almost 100 years. However, concern still exists over whether diatom communities developing on artificial substrata accurately represent communities developing on natural substrata. This study compares the diatom communities colonising glass slides and clay tiles in two coastal dune lakes, and compares these communities to the naturally occurring communities in the epipelon, epilithon, and epiphyton. Both glass microslides and clay tiles, incubated for three separate periods ranging from 29 to 68 days, resulted in replicate substratum samples supporting similar diatom community compositions at each site. The degree of variation between artificial substrata communities at different sites, and between the two artificial substrata types, was generally no more than the degree of variation between communities on different types of natural substrata. Additionally, the composition of the diatom communities on the artificial substrata was representative of the community composition on the natural substrata. The effects of incubation period and siting are discussed.
The original publication is available at www.springerlink.com at http://dx.doi.org/10.1023/A:1025498732371