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International Journal of Ecology
Volume 2011 (2011), Article ID 738035, 12 pages
Research Article

Mapping the Fundamental Niches of Two Freshwater Microalgae, Chlorella vulgaris (Trebouxiophyceae) and Peridinium cinctum (Dinophyceae), in 5-Dimensional Ion Space

USDA Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Horticultural Research Laboratory, 2001 South Rock Road, Ft. Pierce, FL 34945-3030, USA

Received 26 November 2010; Revised 16 April 2011; Accepted 17 May 2011

Academic Editor: L. Smith

Copyright © 2011 Terence J. Evens and Randall P. Niedz. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The fundamental niche defined by five ions, NO3, PO43, K+, Na+, and Cl−, was mapped for Chlorella vulgaris (Trebouxiophyceae) and Peridinium cinctum (Dinophyceae) growth rates and maximum cell densities in batch cultures. A five dimensional ion-mixture experimental design was projected across a total ion concentration gradient of 1 to 30 mM to delineate the ion-based, “potential” niche space, defined as the entire n-dimensional hypervolume demarcated by the feasible ranges of the independent factors under consideration. The growth rate-based, fundamental niche volumes overlapped for ca. 94% of the ion mixtures, although the regions of maximal growth rates and cell densities were different for each alga. Both C. vulgaris and P. cinctum exhibited similar positive responses to cations and negative responses to anions. It was determined that total ion concentration for these five ions, from 1 to 30 mM, did not directly affect either growth rate or maximal cell density for either alga, although it did play an interactive role with several ions. This study is the first that we are aware of to attempt the mapping of a multivariate, ion-based, fundamental niche volume. The implications of the experimental design utilized and the potential utility of this type of approach are discussed.