Constancea 83, 2002
University and Jepson Herbaria
P.C. Silva Festschrift

A Checklist of the Benthic Marine Algae Known to Puerto Rico, Second Revision

David L. Ballantine and Nilda E. Aponte
Department of Marine Sciences
University of Puerto Rico
Mayagüez, Puerto Rico
U.S.A. 00681

image of Udotea flabellum

    Bonnie Bower Dennis

The Checklist:

This checklist is originally based on:

Ballantine, D.L. and N.E. Aponte. 1997. A revised checklist of the benthic marine algae known to Puerto Rico. Caribbean Journal of Science, 33: 150–179.

The first complete list of the marine benthic algal flora of Puerto Rico was compiled by Almodóvar and Ballantine (1983). That list was revised by Ballantine and Aponte (1997a). Numerous nomenclatural changes were incorporated. The present revision includes newly reported species records for Puerto Rico as well as systematic updates reported by Wynne (1998). Four hundred ninety-two species of algae, including macroscopic Chrysophyceae and Xanthophyceae but excluding Cyanophyta, are now listed from Puerto Rico. Among the major divisions of algae, the flora consists of 59% Rhodophyta, 13% Phaeophyta, and 28% Chlorophyta.

Puerto Rico is centrally situated in an arc of islands comprising the West Indies. The Greater Antilles, of which Puerto Rico is the eastern-most island, define the northern boundary of the Caribbean Sea; thus, the north coast of Puerto Rico abuts the Atlantic Ocean while the remaining coasts are technically Caribbean. The marine algal flora of Puerto Rico has been intensively collected and is presently the best known of any island or island group in the region.

Studies of Puerto Rican algae date to the latter part of the last century. Hauck's (1888) report was the first published account of Puerto Rican algae, reporting 90 species from the island. Many of these records were subsequently treated as "Uncertain Records" by Taylor (1960), and several other of the reported species have not been collected again in Puerto Rico. Díaz-Piferrer (1963) has discussed the substantial contributions made by Howe (e.g., 1903, 1907, 1915, 1921; Foslie and Howe 1906), Foslie (1929), and Blomquist (Almodóvar and Blomquist 1959, 1961; Blomquist and Almodóvar 1961; Blomquist and Díaz-Piferrer 1961) to our understanding of the island's benthic marine flora. Subsequent ambitious collecting by University of Puerto Rico professors Luis R. Almodóvar and Manuel Díaz-Piferrer, until their retirements, is responsible for many of the algal records.

Collections of Puerto Rican marine algae have historically been housed in two herbaria on the island. The first of these, the Ficoteca Puertorriqueña was established in 1958 and was directed by Manuel Díaz-Piferrer. The second was also founded in 1958 by Luis R. Almodóvar. Remarkably, both herbaria, recognized in the Index Herbariorum (Holmgren et al., 1981) with abbreviations FPDB and MSM respectively, were holdings within the Department of Marine Sciences of the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez. The two were officially combined into a single herbarium, MSM, by the senior author in 1990 and the collection of over 36,000 specimens is now known as the Herbario Marino Puertorriqueño (Holmgren et al., 1990).

Where taxa are common to Puerto Rico and the marine flora of the Indian Ocean, we have followed the taxonomy and nomenclature of Silva et al. (1996) except where otherwise indicated by footnotes. Footnotes also indicate additions to the flora since the first checklist (Almodóvar and Ballantine, 1983) and nomenclatural changes since Wynne's (1986) checklist. We have also followed Silva et al.'s (1996) arrangement of orders in presumed phylogenetic sequence. Families, genera, and species are alphabetically arranged. Synonyms are listed indented in brackets under accepted names. For the sake of simplicity we have avoided use of infraspecific taxa where possible. Exceptions are limited to those taxa which are only known to the flora as a specific variety. Authors are abbreviated according to Brummitt and Powell (1992). One hundred fifty-three genera or species are currently linked to underwater natural habitat images, photomicrographs, herbarium specimen scans, or paintings. Unless otherwise indicated, photos, and herbarium specimens are of algae from Puerto Rico.

We gratefully acknowledge the support of the University of Puerto Rico Sea Grant Program and the former Office of Research Coordination of the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez. We also thank Ms. Bonnie Bower Dennis who is responsible for the algal paintings.