The Chlorophytes of Curaçao (Caribbean): a revised checklist for the south-west coast
The global trend of unprecedented losses in coral reefs is particularly striking in the Caribbean, where dense algal assemblages are commonly replacing corals. So far, hardly anything is known about the ecology of the dominant algal groups. The present study compiled records of Chlorophytes from nine studies in the shallow reefs of Curaçao in the years preceding the onset of coral reef decline (1908–1978) and compared them with records from three recent (2007–2009) expeditions conducted at the same and nearby study locations along the south-west coast of the island. A total of 107 species were encountered, including seven new records for Curaçao (Anadyomene saldanhae, Bryopsis hypnoides, Chaetomorpha minima, Derbesia fastigiata, Ulva flexuosa subsp. paradoxa, Ulvella scutata and Ulvella lens). Sampled material revealed a higher species number during the dry seasons than during the wet seasons, indicating a seasonal variation in algal growth. Most species grew on hard substratum or were epibiotic, and 13 species were found growing on more than one substratum. Comparisons with earlier studies suggest an extension in depth range for nine species. The present work provides a comprehensive overview of the distribution of Chlorophytes of the island and can serve as an important baseline for further research on coral reef ecosystem changes.