Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
Marine Botany

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Mastocarpus is a genus of red algae that lives in the mid to high intertidal. It is probably the most common red alga along the California coast. Wherever you find intertidal rocks, you will find Mastocarpus as the upper 0.5 to 1.0 meters of brownish red algae. Here in Monterey Bay, we have two species of Mastocarpus, M. papillatus and M. jardinii. The two are quite similar in appearance. It takes practice to tell them apart.

Mastocarpus has a complex life history with a crustose, tar-like tetrasporophyte and foliose gametophytes. Like the other red algae, Mastocarpus also has a carposporophyte in its life history. This complex life history has interesting ecological implications for Mastocarpus.

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Mastocarpus pages copyright W. Ludington 1999