, Volume 38, Issue 2, pp 305-317

Temperature tolerance and biogeography of seaweeds: The marine algal flora of Helgoland (North Sea) as an example

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Temperature tolerance (1 week exposure time) was determined at intervals during two successive years in 54 dominant marine benthic algae growing near Helgoland (North Sea). Seawater temperatures near Helgoland seasonally range between 3°C (in some years 0°) and 18°C. All algae survived 0°C, and none 33°C. Among the brown algae,Chorda tomentosa was the most sensitive species surviving only 18°C, followed by theLaminaria spp. surviving 20°, however not 23°C.Fucus spp. andCladostephus spongiosus were the most heat-tolerant brown algae, surviving 28°C. Among the red algae, species of the Delesseriaceae(Phycodrys rubens, Membranoptera alata) ranged on the lower end with a maximum survival temperature of 20°C, whereas the representatives of the Phyllophoraceae(Ahnfelitia plicata, Phyllophora truncata, P. pseudoceranoides) exhibited the maximum heat tolerance of the Helgoland marine algal flora with survival at 30°C. The latter value was also achieved byCodium fragile, Bryopsis hypnoides andEnteromorpha prolifera among the green algae, whereas theAcrosiphonia spp. survived only 20°C, andMonostroma undulatum only 10°C, not 15°C. Seasonal shifts of heat tolerance of up to 5°C were detected, especially inLaminaria spp. andDesmarestia aculeata. The majority of the dominant marine algal species of the Helgoland flora occurs in the Arctic, and it is hypothesized that also there the upper lethal limits of these species may hardly have changed even today. The data presented should provide a base for further analysis of the causes of geographical distribution of the North Atlantic algal species, but have still to be supplemented with similar investigations on other coasts, and supplemented with determinations of temperature requirements throughout the life cycle.

Paper presented at the Seaweed Biogeography Workshop of the International Working Group on Seaweed Biogeography, held from 3–7 April 1984 at the Department of Marine Biology, University of Groningen (The Netherlands). Convenor: C. van den Hoek