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Biodiversity, biogeography and zonation of marine benthic micro- and macroalgae in the Arctic and Antarctic
This paper reviews the composition, biogeography and zonation of benthic algae in Arctic and Antarctic polar regions. There is a marked contrast in the literature between the amount of information on microalgae vs. macroalgae. Perhaps not surprising in view of their size and conspicuous nature, the macroalgae are better known than the microalgae and they have been studied more intensively. Macroalgal biodiversity is greater in Antarctica than in the Arctic, as is the number of endemic species. Both these characteristics of the Antarctic marine macroalgal flora can be explained by the biogeographical histories of the regions. In contrast, endemism amongst Arctic and Antarctic benthic microalgae is generally considered to be low; however, there is very little evidence to support this and further molecular research is needed to document and clarify the biodiversity of marine benthic microalgae of both polar regions. The zonation or local distribution of polar macroalgae and microalgae is influenced by physiological, morphological, chemical and ecological characteristics that determine responses to a range of environmental factors, including the ability to resist and survive algal grazing. Typically, the lower depth distribution limit elevates with increasing latitude.
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