BIOTIC Species Information for Himanthalia elongata
Researched byNicola White Data supplied byMarLIN
Refereed byDr Dagmar Stengel
Distribution and Habitat
Distribution in Britain & IrelandAll coasts of Britain and Ireland, except south east England.
Global distributionNorway, Britain, Ireland, north west coast of France, northern Spain and Portugal.
Biogeographic rangeNot researched Depth rangeNot relevant
Distribution Additional Information
  • The distribution of Himanthalia elongata appears to be controlled by the degree of wave exposure, presence of tidal currents and the availability of suitable substrata. The species grows best in areas with strong tidal currents and is most commonly found on semi-exposed shores where, it can be locally abundant. It is rarely found in exposed shores and occasionally forms dense stands on sheltered shores.
  • The degree of exposure to waves is also important in determining the persistence of adult plants on the shore. On exposed sites, adult plants may only be present until October, whereas on sheltered sites, plants may be present until February.
  • Zygotes of this species are intolerant of lowered salinity and silt, restricting the species' distribution. Himanthalia elongata is typically found in the lower eulittoral and sometimes extends into the shallow sublittoral. The species can tolerate the physical conditions found further up the shore, but it is prevented from growing there by grazing pressure.
  • Plants from exposed sites tend to be shorter and have fewer, narrower receptacles. Plants grow well in the presence of a red algal turf, which offers protection to young vegetative stages from wave action.

Substratum preferencesBedrock
Large to very large boulders
Physiographic preferencesOpen coast
Strait / sound
Ria / Voe
Biological zoneLower Eulittoral
Sublittoral Fringe
Wave exposureModerately Exposed
Tidal stream strength/Water flowStrong (3-6 kn)
Moderately Strong (1-3 kn)
Weak (<1 kn)
SalinityFull (30-40 psu)
Habitat Preferences Additional Information
Distribution References Stengel et al., 1999, Moss et al., 1973, Hardy & Guiry, 2003,
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