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The Phytobenthos

1. Benthic macroalgae

  • Distribution: macroalgae (kelp) are most abundant on rocky shores in temperate regions
  • Groups of macroalgae:
    • Brown algae (Phaeophyta), e.g. Fucus; Laminaria (California kelp forrests! Home of the seaotter), Macrocystis (biggest kelp); gas bladders keep thalli afloat

    • Gas bladders like in this thallus of Fucus keep seaweeds afloat

      Brown algae like Laminaria and Macrocystis (kelp) can reach substantial size up to several meters (above). They can form dense kelp forrests (below), which are the home of seaotters off the coast of California.

  2. Seagrass
  • Seagrass: important hatchery grounds for shrimp and fish, help „cleaning“ the water. They are higher plants, and several species occur

  • Danger to seagrasses: pollution and eutrophication (phytoplankton blooms) increase turbidity, reducing light; sport boating causes „scares“ by uprooting plants.

  • Seagrass damage by prop scars, Dade County, FL: green = little affected, yellow = moderately affected, re = strongly affected

    Take a look at the Seagrass Homepage

3. Mangroves