Helgoländer Meeresuntersuchungen

, Volume 52, Issue 3–4, pp 243–258 | Cite as

Red algal exotics on North Sea coasts

  • Christine A. Maggs
  • Herre Stegenga


A total of ten red seaweed species are recognized as introduced into the North Sea from other parts of the world. These areAsparagopsis armata andBonnemaisonia hamifera (Bonnemaisoniales),Grateloupia doryphora (Halymeniales),Antithamnionella spirographidis, Antithamnionella ternifolia, Anotrichium furcellatum, Dasya baillouviana, ?Dasysiphonia sp.,Polysiphonia harveyi andPolysiphonia senticulosa (Ceramiales). The oldest of these isB. hamifera, introduced prior to 1890, while the most recent,?Dasysiphonia sp., was first found in 1994 and still requires taxonomic investigation. A variety of distribution patterns is seen, with geographical ranges varying from general within the North Sea to very restricted. The diversity of introduced red algae on eastern coasts of the North Sea is much greater than in the west. The most likely explanation for this pattern is that French coasts were the initial site of introduction for many of the seaweeds, which were then distributed northwards by the residual surface currents. Their increasing success in the Netherlands has probably been promoted by the drastically changed local hydrodynamic conditions which have also permitted the recent introduction of many native European species. Of the biological features of species that may favour their success as introductions, clonal vegetative propagation, often with specialized propagules or fragmentation mechanisms, is almost ubiquitous. Low-temperature tolerances can be inferred, but data are sparse. Many of the alien red algae in the North Sea contain anti-grazing compounds such as bromophenols, which may contribute to their invasive potential by deterring grazing sufficiently to permit establishment of an inoculum.

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Copyright information

© Biologische Anstalt Helgoland 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christine A. Maggs
    • 1
  • Herre Stegenga
    • 2
  1. 1.School of Biology and BiochemistryQueen’s University of BelfastBelfastUK
  2. 2.RijksherbariumVan Steenis GebouwLeidenThe Netherlands

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