Biodiversity & Conservation

Fucus serratus, sponges and ascidians on tide-swept lower eulittoral rock


<i>%Fucus serratus%</i>, sponges and ascidians on tide-swept lower eulittoral rock
Distribution map

LR.HLR.FT.FserT recorded (dark blue bullet) and expected (light blue bullet) distribution in Britain and Ireland (see below)

  • UK_BAP

Marine natural heritage importance

Listed under UK Biodiversity Action Plan
National importance Scarce
Habitat Directive feature (Annex 1) Reefs
Large shallow inlets and bays

Biotope importance

The toothed wrack Fucus serratus and false Irish moss Mastocarpus stellatus are both harvested commercially (see 'Exploitation').


Within this biotope, at least two of the algal species are known to be targeted for extraction, namely Fucus serratus and Chondrus crispus. Fucus serratus is collected, dried and used as a soil additive. Various fucalean algae are used in the production of alginates and these are used widely in the pharmaceutical and cosmetics industries. Chondrus crispus is harvested commercially in Ireland, Spain, France, Portugal and North America for the extraction of carrageenan (Guiry & Blunden, 1991). In Ireland, harvesting has generally remained sustainable through pickers developing an intuitive feel for the annual cycle of local stocks and certain practices which involve pulling only the bushy top half of the frond off leaving the base and holdfast behind (Morrissey et al., 2001). The gelling and thickening properties of carrageenan are used widely in the food, pharmaceutical and cosmetics industries (see MarLIN review). Mastocarpus stellatus may also be collected with Chondrus crispus. It is known to what extent Fucus serratus is collected in Britain and Ireland, although if large sections of the canopy are removed, this will probably have an adverse effect on the biotope (see 'Sensitivity').

Additional information icon Additional information

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This review can be cited as follows:

Marshall, C.E. 2005. Fucus serratus, sponges and ascidians on tide-swept lower eulittoral rock. Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Sub-programme [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. [cited 26/11/2015]. Available from: <>