• Category
  • Diameter
    3.7-13.8 µm
  • Striae in 10 µm



Valves have a distinct central area and a well-defined marginal ring. The center is either concave or convex. The central area has a stellate pattern of alveoli. In some specimens, the central pattern may be absent or composed of ghost alveoli. The marginal ring has striae of equal length.


This planktonic taxon is abundant in oligotrophic lakes during spring and early summer, when the surface mixed layer is shallow. When mixing depth is deeper, abundance declines (Saros et al. 2016). In the latter conditions, larger species, such as Lindavia bodanica, tend to dominate the plankton.

The abundances of D. stelligera can be weighed against abundance of other plankton to create diatom-inferred mixing index to reconstruct past wind conditions in large (>~ 500 ha) lakes or water clarity in smaller lakes (< ~500 ha), which are less susceptible to wind mixing (Fee et al. 1996, Von Einem and Granéli 2021, Saros et al. 2012).

Furthermore, light availability, lake mixing, and timing of nutrient loads favored D. stelligera during years where lake ice cover persisted longer into the year (Malik et al. 2018).

Discostella stelligera is widely reported from lakes in Europe (Krammer and Lange-Bertalot 1991a) and North America, including the Laurentian Great Lakes (Reavie and Kireta 2015), inland lakes in Quebec (Fallu et al. 2000), Wood Buffalo National Park (Moser et al. 2004), New York (Camburn and Charles 2000), Montana (Bahls 2021), oligotrophic to mesotrophic lakes in the Great Lakes Network National Parks (Ramstack et al. 2022, Edlund et al. 2022), and the St. Lawrence River (Reavie and Smol 1998). Environmental optima reported for Discostella stelligera are variable (Saros and Anderson 2015) and include 32 µg/l TP, 9 µg/l Cl (Reavie and Kireta 2015), 15 µg/l TP, and low SiO2 1.3 µg/L(Moser et al. 2004).

Original Description

  • Basionym
    Cyclotella meneghiniana var. stelligera
  • Author
    Cleve and Grunow 1881

Original Images


Citations & Links




Dec 14, 2023 - Autecological information

From 2015 until 2023 the autecological information on this taxon page was limited. As of this update, information on ecology, biogeography, and environmental optima has been added. - Mark Edlund

Cite This Page

Lowe, R., Edlund, M., Mohan, J., Spaulding, S., Allen, L., Bishop, I. (2015). Discostella stelligera. In Diatoms of North America. Retrieved February 27, 2024, from https://diatoms.org/species/discostella_stelligera


The 15 response plots show an environmental variable (x axis) against the relative abundance (y axis) of Discostella stelligera from all the stream reaches where it was present. Note that the relative abundance scale is the same on each plot. Explanation of each environmental variable and units are as follows:

ELEVATION = stream reach elevation (meters)
STRAHLER = distribution plot of the Strahler Stream Order
SLOPE = stream reach gradient (degrees)
W1_HALL = an index that is a measure of streamside (riparian) human activity that ranges from 0 - 10, with a value of 0 indicating of minimal disturbance to a value of 10 indicating severe disturbance.
PHSTVL = pH measured in a sealed syringe sample (pH units)
log_COND = log concentration of specific conductivity (µS/cm)
log_PTL = log concentration of total phosphorus (µg/L)
log_NO3 = log concentration of nitrate (µeq/L)
log_DOC = log concentration of dissolved organic carbon (mg/L)
log_SIO2 = log concentration of silicon (mg/L)
log_NA = log concentration of sodium (µeq/L)
log_HCO3 = log concentration of the bicarbonate ion (µeq/L)
EMBED = percent of the stream substrate that is embedded by sand and fine sediment
log_TURBIDITY = log of turbidity, a measure of cloudiness of water, in nephelometric turbidity units (NTU).
DISTOT = an index of total human disturbance in the watershed that ranges from 1 - 100, with a value of 0 indicating of minimal disturbance to a value of 100 indicating severe disturbance.