Biodiversity & Conservation

Chrysophyceae on vertical upper littoral fringe soft rock



Image Tim Hill - Base of vertical chalk cliff showing green cover of Chrysophyceae. Image width ca XX cm.
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Distribution map

LR.L.Chr recorded (dark blue bullet) and expected (light blue bullet) distribution in Britain and Ireland (see below)

  • EC_Habitats

Recorded distribution in Britain and Ireland

Recorded from chalk and other soft rock cliffs on the Calf of Eday, Orkney; St. Andrews Bay, Fife; Flamborough Head; the Thanet and east Kent coasts; the Isle of Wight; Isle of Purbeck, south Dorset coast and Lyme Bay.

Habitat preferences

Temperature range preferences - Data deficient

Water clarity preferences - Not relevant

Limiting Nutrients - Phosphorus (phosphates)
Silicon (silicates)
Nitrogen (nitrates)

Other preferences - Soft porous rock

Additional information

Soft rocks such as sandstone, limestone (or brick) but especially chalk support diverse algal communities characteristic of this biotope. However, on smooth, impermeable rock surfaces (including artificial substrata such as concrete) the Chrysophyceae and Haptophyceae were replaced by Cyanobacteria (Entophysalis sp.) (Tittley & Shaw, 1980; Fowler & Tittley, 1993).

Several members of this community, especially the fine filamentous algae, Chrysophyceae and Haptophyceae are difficult to identify. Therefore, this biotope and its component species may be under recorded in the British Isles. However, the distribution of this biotope is limited to suitable environmental conditions on suitable rock surfaces (e.g. chalk cliffs) many of which have been affected by the construction of sea defences resulting in loss of this biotope in parts of the UK (see importance; Fowler & Tittley, 1993).

This review can be cited as follows:

Tyler-Walters, H. 2001. Chrysophyceae on vertical upper littoral fringe soft rock. Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Sub-programme [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. [cited 27/11/2015]. Available from: <>