The phytogeography ofCladophora (Chlorophyceae) in the northern Atlantic Ocean, in comparison to that of other benthic algal species

  • C. van den Hoek


About 43Cladophora species inhabit the coasts of the northern Atlantic Ocean. These can be subdivided into seven distribution groups: (a) the tropical western Atlantic group (16 species); (b) the warm temperate Mediterranean-Atlantic group (9 species); (c) the warm temperate North American group (1 species); (d) the Arctic group (1 species); (e) the amphiatlantic tropical to warm temperature group (7 species); (f) the amphiatlantic tropical to temperate group (4 species), and (g) the amphiatlantic temperate group (5 species). These groups agree with general phytogeographic patterns. Thus, the high numbers of species restricted to the tropical western Atlantic region and the warm temperate Mediteranean-Atlantic region are in agreement with the richness and high degree of endemism of these regions. The fact that all species occurring in northeast America also occur in Europe agrees with the high floristic similarity of the boreal areas in America and Europe. The sediment coasts of the Carolinas are an efficient barrier to the south-north dispersal of benthic algae. The temperature bound phytogeographic limits are set in most cases by the species ability to survive adverse temperatures; for “northern” species to survive a high summer temperature in the south, and for “southern” species to survive a low winter temperature in the north. The limits in the Arctic region are all set by the species ability for sufficient growth and reproduction in summer. Conversely, only few northern species have a southern limit which is set by a winter temperature that is not too high for sufficient growth and reproduction. Most species of this group are winter-annuals at their southern limit, and summer-annuals at their northern limit. A comparatively small number of species with a tropical-to-warm temperate distribution have a northern limit at temperate latitudes which is set by a sufficiently high summer temperature for growth and reproduction. A high proportion of this group are lagoonal or quiet water species, which profit by higher summer temperatures in sheltered waters.C. vagabunda is an example.C. rupestris andC. sericea have an amphiboreal distribution and also occur in the southern temperate belt. They probably used a Pleistocene temperature drop to disperse, through the Atlantic along the African coast, from one hemisphere to the other. In the Pacific temperatures were not sufficiently low for this dispersal; and hence these two species reached the Pacific probably by way of the Bering Strait.


Northern Limit Temperate Group Southern Limit High Summer Temperature Pacific Temperature 
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Copyright information

© Biologischen Anstalt Helgoland 1979

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. van den Hoek
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Systematic Botany, Biological CentreUniversity of GroningenHaren (Groningen)The Netherlands

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