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Keywords:

  • Cladophora;
  • competition;
  • ecology;
  • eutrophication;
  • grazing;
  • hydrodynamics;
  • nutrients;
  • species interactions

ABSTRACT

Cladophora is found in a variety of marine and fresh-waters and provides habitat and food for numerous organisms. It may be the most ubiquitous macroalga in fresh-waters worldwide. This filamentous green alga can reach nuisance levels as a result of cultural eutrophication. Taxonomic identification of Cladophora species is difficult. Taxonomy may be clarified by the simultaneous culture of known taxa and material derived from field collections under the same sets of culture conditions. This should eliminate ecotypic variations in morphology. Cladophora is predominantly benthic and is often found in regions of unidirectional flow or periodic wave action. Its metabolism, and morphology are related to hydrodynamic conditions. Nitrogen and phosphorus are the most commonly reported limiting nutrients. Cladophora is a mid- to late successional species in freshwaters where it is grazer resistant. In marine communities, however, it is considered an early opportunist and relatively palatable to invertebrates. Cladophora is colonized by a wide variety of epiphytes and motile animals because it can offer protection from predation, food (in the form of epiphytes or Cladophora itself), or a substrate that is anchored against flow disturbance. Species interactions that occur within Cladophora communities include 1) competition with other primary producers, 2) top-down control of biomass, 3) association with nitrogen-fixing epiphytes, 4) grazing on epiphytes by invertebrates, and 5) complicated foodwebs in marine intertidal and freshwater communities. Because Cladophora is found in many different habitats, its ecology varies significantly with locale.