The last frontier: the marine benthic flora of northwestern Australia
Huisman, J. (2011) The last frontier: the marine benthic flora of northwestern Australia. In: XVIII International Botanical Congress IBC2011, 23 - 30 July, Melbourne, Australia.
Australia can lay claim to one of the richest and best-studied macroalgal floras in the world, but our understanding of this flora is geographically biased towards the southern and eastern coasts, the most populous regions that have also historically been home to the majority of active phycologists. In comparison, the north-west coast of Australia has been virtually neglected, a perhaps understandable situation given the region’s remoteness and significantly greater logistical difficulties, in addition to huge tidal flows, turbid water, and the presence of several top-level predators! Over the last 10 or so years the author and associates have been opportunistically collecting and intensively studying this marine flora, which has, in part, become considerably more accessible due to the resources boom presently underway in the region. These studies, the results of which will eventually be published in the ‘Algae of Australia’ series, have revealed a trove of undescribed taxa, as well as numerous poorly understood species previously known from limited historical collections, plus a large contingent of taxa that are common elements of the tropical Indo-West Pacific flora. Many of the collected specimens have also been incorporated into ancillary DNA-based phylogenetic studies, thereby enabling a more global perspective of the north-western Australian flora. This seminar will include an overview of the broader project, plus a more detailed examination of some of the more interesting taxa that have emerged from the studies.
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