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Rhipilia coppejansii, a newly described species of algae found in the waters of Guam

Rhipilia coppejansii, a newly described species of algae found in the waters of Guam, forms green tufts at the base of coral colonie. Photo: Tom Shils

New Alga Species from Guam Described

October 16, 2012
AlgaeIndustryMagazine.com

University of Guam Marine Lab scientist, Tom Shils, and coauthor Heroen Verbruggen of the University of Melbourne have published an article describing a new species of algae found in the waters of Guam. Rhipilia coppejansii is the fifth green alga described from the Mariana Islands and the first one since 1978.

“The molecular tools that aided its identification also reveal that previously undetected biodiversity abounds in the marine algal flora of Guam, which is an integral part of the island’s natural heritage in which its people and their culture are deeply rooted,” says Shils.

This newly described species was found in the waters of the Piti Bomb Holes area, off the west coast of Guam. In general appearance it is similar to Turtle Weed (Chlorodesmis), as both algae form green tufts at the base of coral colonies. “Our paper exemplifies the large amount of hidden (cryptic) diversity that we’ve recently been discovering in our marine flora. Molecular tools reveal that the species diversity of algae has been greatly underestimated for our islands,” says Shils.

This research was funded by the Research Foundation -Flanders, US Fish & Wildlife Service through the Guam Division of Aquatic and Wildlife Resources, and the NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Grant Program through the Guam Coastal Management Program.

Further reading: Verbruggen H. & Schils T. 2012. Rhipilia coppejansii, a new coral reef-associated species from Guam (Bryopsidales, Chlorophyta). Journal of Phycology 48: 1090-1098.

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