Microscopic investigations were undertaken to decipher the diversity in the lotic algal communities from acidic waters (pH 2. 4-3. 2) flowing overland in sheets and channels at an acid mine drainage (AMD) barrens near Kylertown, PA, USA. Microscopic observations, supplemented with taxonomic keys, aided in identification of the dominant algae, and measurement of carbon from adjacent soils was undertaken. The unicellular protist Euglena sp. was most abundant in slower flowing waters (i. e., pool near point of emergence and surficial flow sheets), while Ulothrix sp. was most abundant in faster flowing water from the central stream channel. A diverse range of unicellular microalgae such as Chlorella, Cylindrocystis, Botryococcus, and Navicula and several filamentous forms identified as Microspora, Cladophora, and Binuclearia were also recorded. The observed high algal diversity may be related to the long duration of AMD flow at this site which has led to the development of adapted algal communities. The comparatively higher carbon content in soil materials adjacent to slower flowing water sampling locations provides evidence for the important role of algae as primary producers in this extreme environment.
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