Structural integrity and skeletal trace elements in intertidal coralline algae across the Northeast Atlantic reveal a distinct separation of the leading and the trailing edge populations

Regina Kolzenburg, Hugo Moreira, Craig Storey, Federica Ragazzola

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Intertidal macroalgae, such as coralline algae, represent an essential structural element and substrate in rocky coastal zones. They have a high degree of flexibility allowing their survival in environments with severe mechanical stress during tidal cycles. This study characterised the genicula and intergenicula of the calcifying red algae Corallina officinalis across its geographic distribution in the Northeast Atlantic. Poleward populations have constructed more sturdy cell walls compared to equatorward populations, potentially due to greater local adaptations to higher frequency and intensity of environmental factors like storms and wave action. Southern populations showed a lack of local adaptation culminating in survival rather than thriving within their current environment, hence, they are located at the margin of this species' favourable conditions. Results clarify significant differences between latitudes and indicate a north-to-south gradient in this species’ skeletal elemental composition. Northern populations were dominated by cadmium, whereas chromium was the major trace element found in southern populations. In the future, these characteristics could lead to a permanent decline and a decrease in the ecosystem functions of C. officinalis in the southern locations in the Northeast Atlantic, which may be accelerated by predicted future climatic changes.
Original languageEnglish
Article number106086
Number of pages12
JournalMarine Environmental Research
Early online date14 Jul 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2023

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