13. Endemism in freshwater algae
- Cite this article as:
- Tyler, P.A. Hydrobiologia (1996) 336: 127. doi:10.1007/BF00010826
Across the world there is a prevailing view that freshwater algae are cosmopolitan. The notion has seldom been tested and is unlikely to be true in genetic terms. Nonetheless, some morphospecies of several groups of algae do have a worldwide distribution. Others have restricted distributions and may be regarded as endemic to a region. However there is always the possibility that they will be discovered in far away places. Australia has a rather large element of endemicity in its algal flora. From the early days of Australian phycology many new genera and species of freshwater algae have been described. Some are of such distinctive appearance or novelty as to be regarded as ‘flagship’ taxa. There is little doubt about their endemicity and their existence increases the probability of less-distinguished species also being endemic. The degree of endemicity is probably masked by the ‘force-fitting’ of European names to Australian species.
Some Australian endemics are robust and are widely distributed in a variety of types of water body. Others, the frail endemics, the ones of greatest novelty and phylogenetic significance, have a very restricted range with their strongholds in dystrophic coastal lagoons where tracts or remnant patches of native vegetation survive. Their survival and the conservation of their biodiversity depends on recognition of the significance of coastal lagoons and swamps.