Protozoan Diversity and Biogeography


Over 100 000 protozoa have been named. Many are associated with particular types of habitats and there is a growing view that many protozoa can be found in those habitats anywhere in the world.

Keywords: protozoa; protista; biogeography

Figure 1.

Numbers of species of organisms plotted against size – adapted from May 1988. The scale is the log of the numerical values. The dotted line projects the relationship that appears to exist for the larger organisms to the microorganisms.



Corliss JO (1982) Numbers of species comprising the phyletic groups assignable to the kingdom protista. Journal of Protozoology 29: 499.

May RM (1988) How many species are there on Earth? Science 241: 1441–1449.

Further Reading

Adlard RD and O'Donoghue PJ (1998) Perspectives on the biodiversity of parasitic protozoa in Australia. Australian Biologist 11: 121–132.

Allsopp D, Colwell RR, Hawksworth DL (eds) (1995) Microbial Diversity and Ecosystem Function. Oxford: CAB International.

Berninger U‐G, Caron DA, Sanders RW and Finlay BJ (1991) Heterotrophic flagellates of planktonic communities, their characteristics and methods of study. In: Patterson DJ and Larsen J (eds) The Biology of Free Living Heterotrophic Flagellates, special vol. 45, pp. 39–56, Oxford: Clarendon.

Fenchel T (1987) The Ecology of Protozoa. Madison, WI: Science Tech.

Finlay BJ (1998) The global diversity of protozoa and other small species. International Journal of Parasitology 28: 29–48.

Lee WJ and Patterson DJ (1998) Diversity and geographic distribution of free‐living heterotrophic flagellates – analysis by PRIMER. Protist 149: 229–243.

Patterson DJ (1994) Protozoa, evolution and systematics. In: Hausmann K and Hülsmann N (eds) Progress in Protozoology, Proceedings of the IX International Congress of Protozoology, pp. 1–14. Stuttgart, Germany: Gustav Fischer.

Patterson DJ (1999) The diversity of eukaryotes. American Naturalist 154: S96–S124.

Patterson DJ and Larsen J (eds) (1991) The Biology of Free‐living Heterotrophic Flagellates. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Tyler PA (1996) Endemism in freshwater algae. Hydrobiologia 336: 127–135.

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How to Cite close
Patterson, David J(Apr 2001) Protozoan Diversity and Biogeography. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. [doi: 10.1038/npg.els.0001926]