BugwoodWiki Article

Mediterranean clone of caulerpa
Caulerpa taxifolia (Vahl) C. Agardth

Overview

Appearance
Caulerpa taxifolia is an invasive marine alga that is often referred to as "Killer Algae".
Foliage
Fronds are fern-like, bright green, pinnate, and from 2-26 in. (5-65 cm) long that extend upward from horizontal stolons. The stolons can grow to 10 ft. (3 m) long and attach to underwater surfaces such as rocks, mud, or sand via root-like rhizoids.
Flowers
Does not flower.
Fruit
There is no sexual reproduction; propagation is purely vegetative. 0.5 in. (1.2 cm) long stem and stolon fragments can grow into new algae. These fragments are easily transported by boating and fishing activities.
Ecological Threat
The non-invasive form of Caulerpa taxifolia is native to the Caribbean, Indo-Pacific and the Red Sea. A clone of the species was cultured for display at the Stuttgart Aquarium in Germany and provided to aquariums in France and Monaco. It either escaped from or was released from an aquarium into the Mediterranean Sea in 1984 where it spread rapidly, densely blanketing thousands of acres of underwater surfaces. Populations of the invasive Mediterranean aquarium strain were discovered in 2000 in California and threaten native kelp and eelgrass meadows. The invasive clone is genetically distinct from the native (DNA tests are necessary to distinguish them) and it tolerates cooler water, grows more rapidly, and grows at greater depth than the native species. Once established, this alga becomes the dominant species, altering native algal and marine animal communities. Infestations negatively affect tourism, commercial fishing, and recreational activities. The invasive clone was designated in 1999 as a prohibited species under the Federal Noxious Weed Act. Its current distribution includes Croatia, France, Italy, Monaco, Spain (Mediterranean Sea, Adriatic Sea), Australia and the United States.

Selected Images


1357006
1357006

Mediterranean clone of caulerpa
Caulerpa taxifolia
Plant(s)
Rachel Woodfield
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1357008

Mediterranean clone of caulerpa
Caulerpa taxifolia
Foliage
Caulerpa Action Team Archive
1360003
1360003

Mediterranean clone of caulerpa
Caulerpa taxifolia
Infestation
Rachel Woodfield
1357015
1357015

Mediterranean clone of caulerpa
Caulerpa taxifolia
Infestation
Rachel Woodfield
1357018
1357018

Mediterranean clone of caulerpa
Caulerpa taxifolia
Plant(s)
Rachel Woodfield
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1360002

Mediterranean clone of caulerpa
Caulerpa taxifolia
Plant(s)
Rachel Woodfield
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1360004

Mediterranean clone of caulerpa
Caulerpa taxifolia
Plant(s)
Rachel Woodfield
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1357009

Mediterranean clone of caulerpa
Caulerpa taxifolia
Plant(s)
Greig Peters

Maps


EDDMapS Distribution - This map is incomplete and is based only on current site and county level reports made by experts, herbaria, and literature. For more information, visit www.eddmaps.org

EDDMapS Distribution

State Regulated List - This map identifies those states that list this species on their regulated list. For more information, visit Invasive.org

State Regulated List

Taxonomic Rank

Kingdom: Plantae
Phylum: Chlorophycota
Class: Chlorophyceae
Order: Caulerpales
Family: Caulerpaceae
Genus: Caulerpa

Other System Links

Plants: CATA5

Categories

Category: Aquatic