Fleshy red algae mats act as temporary reservoirs for sessile invertebrate biodiversity

Yusuf C. El-Khaled*, Nauras Daraghmeh, Arjen Tilstra, Florian Roth, Markus Huettel, Felix I. Rossbach, Edoardo Casoli, Anna Koester, Milan Beck, Raïssa Meyer, Julia Plewka, Neele Schmidt, Lisa Winkelgrund, Benedikt Merk, Christian Wild

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Many coastal ecosystems, such as coral reefs and seagrass meadows, currently experience overgrowth by fleshy algae due to the interplay of local and global stressors. This is usually accompanied by strong decreases in habitat complexity and biodiversity. Recently, persistent, mat-forming fleshy red algae, previously described for the Black Sea and several Atlantic locations, have also been observed in the Mediterranean. These several centimetre high mats may displace seagrass meadows and invertebrate communities, potentially causing a substantial loss of associated biodiversity. We show that the sessile invertebrate biodiversity in these red algae mats is high and exceeds that of neighbouring seagrass meadows. Comparative biodiversity indices were similar to or higher than those recently described for calcifying green algae habitats and biodiversity hotspots like coral reefs or mangrove forests. Our findings suggest that fleshy red algae mats can act as alternative habitats and temporary sessile invertebrate biodiversity reservoirs in times of environmental change.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number579
JournalCommunications Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s).

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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