High diversity of coralline algae in New Zealand revealed: Knowledge gaps and implications for future research.
ABSTRACT: Coralline algae (Corallinophycideae) are calcifying red algae that are foundation species in euphotic marine habitats globally. In recent years, corallines have received increasing attention due to their vulnerability to global climate change, in particular ocean acidification and warming, and because of the range of ecological functions that coralline algae provide, including provisioning habitat, influencing settlement of invertebrate and other algal species, and stabilising reef structures. Many of the ecological roles corallines perform, as well as their responses to stressors, have been demonstrated to be species-specific. In order to understand the roles and responses of coralline algae, it is essential to be able to reliably distinguish individual species, which are frequently morphologically cryptic. The aim of this study was to document the diversity and distribution of coralline algae in the New Zealand region using DNA based phylogenetic methods, and examine this diversity in a broader global context, discussing the implications and direction for future coralline algal research. Using three independent species delimitation methods, a total of 122 species of coralline algae were identified across the New Zealand region with high diversity found both regionally and also when sampling at small local spatial scales. While high diversity identified using molecular methods mirrors recent global discoveries, what distinguishes the results reported here is the large number of taxa (115) that do not resolve with type material from any genus and/or species. The ability to consistently and accurately distinguish species, and the application of authoritative names, are essential to ensure reproducible science in all areas of research into ecologically important yet vulnerable coralline algae taxa.
PROVIDER: S-EPMC6886753 | BioStudies |