Chondracanthus Distribution and Ecology
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This map shows the distribution of the Gigartinaceae by genus. While it did not reproduce extremely well, the X's (Chondracanthus) can fairly easily be distinguished, indicating its worldwide distribution (Hommersand et. al., 1993).
Chondracanthus exasperatus: Worldwide Distribution
The range of C. exasperatus extends
from Vancouver, British Columbia to Maria, Baja California. Three
varieties of this species have been identified over this range. In
the northern reaches of its range, specimens have extremely irregular
edges. Central californian specimens have very thick blades and are
often found in close proximity, even overlapping with other specimens,
as opposed to southern specimens which are more widely spaced.
Other varieties of C. exasperatus
C. exasperatus: Vertical Distribution: C. exasperatus is found on rocks in the lower intertidal and subtidal zones. Typical depth ranges from 5-10m.
Light availability: Because C. exasperatus is commonly found at these lower depths, it is exposed to lower light intensities than many intertidal algae. Furthermore, it is often associated with kelp forests, which block much of the available light. C. exasperatus is able to continue active photosynthesis in this low light, sheltered environment because its accessory pigments are specialized to absorb this filtered light. Mumford and Waaland have found that maximum growth rate occurs at 3m below the M.L.L.W. (mean low low water) and the maximum growth season is between March and September (Mumford and Waaland, 1980).
Space availability: The limiting factor to C. exasperatus abundance is usually the amount and distribution of suitable substrate.
Algae associated with the vertical range of C. exasperatus:
General algal community known as the kelp forest community. This community is divided into four levels, the canopy species (ie. giant kelp, bull kelp), the understory species (such as the lesser kelps), the turf species (including many reds such as sea grapes), and the crust species (such as coralline algaes). C. exasperatus is a turf species. Basic kelp forest ecology makes certain predictions for the competitive ability and resistance to damage by storms of turf species. Briefly, competitive ability (mostly for light) is hierarchical, moving up from the crust species to the canopy species, as explained earlier in the light availability section. There is an opposite hierarchy for resistance to damage from storms, turf and crust species being more resistant than understory and canopy species (Watanabe, 1998).
Animals associated with the vertical range of C. exasperatus: