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Marine macroalgal biodiversity of northern Madagascar: morpho-genetic systematics and implications of anthropic impacts for conservation

Abstract

A floristic survey of the marine algal biodiversity of Antsiranana Bay, northern Madagascar, was conducted during November 2018. This represents the first inventory encompassing the three major macroalgal classes (Phaeophyceae, Florideophyceae and Ulvophyceae) for the little-known Malagasy marine flora. Combining morphological and DNA-based approaches, we report from our collection a total of 110 species from northern Madagascar, including 30 species of Phaeophyceae, 50 Florideophyceae and 30 Ulvophyceae. Barcoding of the chloroplast-encoded rbcL gene was used for the three algal classes, in addition to tufA for the Ulvophyceae. This study significantly increases our knowledge of the Malagasy marine biodiversity while augmenting the rbcL and tufA algal reference libraries for DNA barcoding. These efforts resulted in a total of 72 new species records for Madagascar. Combining our own data with the literature, we also provide an updated catalogue of 442 taxa of marine benthic macroalgae from Madagascar, comprising 85 Phaeophyceae, 1 Compsopogonophyceae, 240 Florideophyceae and 116 Ulvophyceae. This diversity holds 29 (ca. 6.5%) endemic species to Madagascar. Our results are discussed in the context of increasing threats to biodiversity on Madagascar’s coastal reefs from both anthropic and anthropogenic activities including sewage effluent runoffs and unsustainable agricultural practices such as massive deforestation, leading to ecosystem shifts to algal dominance on reefs, which are recommended to be addressed through integrated land-sea management in a Reef-to-Ridge conservation approach.

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Data availability

The authors confirm that the data supporting the findings of this study are available within the article and its supplementary materials.

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Acknowledgements

Sampling for this study took place within the framework of the capacity-building program “Gestion des collections et des données biologiques” organized by the Royal Museum for Central Africa, Belgium. We are grateful to Professor Abdoul, Dean of the Faculty of Science and Ms. Amélie Landy Soambola at the University of Antsiranana for providing logistical support for field collections. We thank Ms. Aurore Mathys for her assistance with photography and sampling. We thank Dr. Lydiane Mattio for her help in identifying Fucales species. We are indebted to Professor Michael Guiry of the National University of Ireland, Galway for his kind assistance in obtaining algal type and distributional records from AlgaeBase. CV is an International Research Fellow of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science. The research leading to the results presented in this publication was carried out with infrastructure funded by EMBRC Belgium – FWO project GOH3817N.

Funding

This work was supported by the Belgian Development Cooperation through a framework agreement project (2013–2018) with the Royal Museum for Central Africa and Ghent University (Ghent, Belgium) with infrastructure funded by European Marine Biological Resource Centre Belgium/Research Foundation—Flanders Project GOH3817N. The authors thank the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) for additional financial support including a Grant-in-Aid for Science (grant number 19F19796).

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Vieira, C., De Ramon N’Yeurt, A., Rasoamanendrika, F.A. et al. Marine macroalgal biodiversity of northern Madagascar: morpho-genetic systematics and implications of anthropic impacts for conservation. Biodivers Conserv 30, 1501–1546 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10531-021-02156-0

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Keywords

  • Seaweed
  • DNA-barcoding
  • Conservation
  • Florideophyceae
  • Phaeophyceae
  • Flora
  • Ulvophyceae