The foxtail stonewort inhabits four sites on the south coast of England in Dorset, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. One of these populations is substantial but the others are small. There are also scattered populations in Ireland, along Europe’s northern coastline and the Mediterranean coastline as well as isolated populations in southern Africa (1)(2). Hebridean populations have also recently been discovered (2).
As an alga that is specially adapted to tolerate nutrient-poor environments, the foxtail stonewort lives in natural and artificial brackish lagoons with small fluctuations in water level that never exceed two metres (1)(2)(3). Some animal disturbance helps reduce vascular competitors and so encourages foxtail stoneworts. Sand, gravel or pebbles are ideal substrates for growth (1).
The saline lagoon habitat which is home to this alga is under threat from land reclamation for industry, agriculture and recreation as well as from water pollution and changes in salinity as a result of interruptions to waterways (1). Nutrient enrichment following fertiliser run-off from farmland is a particular concern since it encourages the growth of vascular plants against which this specialised stonewort cannot compete (3).
All the foxtail stonewort populations are located within Sites of Special Scientific Interest, Natural Nature Reserves and Special Areas of Conservation which provide protection from habitat destruction and endeavour to maintain and enhance existing populations (1)(3).
The UK Biodiversity Action Plan for this species is available at UK BAP.
A collection of taxonomically unrelated groups that share some common features and are grouped together for historical reasons and for convenience. They are of simple construction, with no protective cell layers surrounding their reproductive structures. They are mainly photoautotrophic, obtaining all their energy from light and carbon dioxide, and possess the photosynthetic pigment, chlorophyll A. They range in complexity from microscopic single cells to very complex plant-like forms, such as kelps. Algal groups include blue-green algae (cyanobacteria), red algae (rhodophyta), green algae (chlorophyta), brown algae and diatoms (chromista) as well as euglenophyta.
Lives or grows for just one year.
In plants, the system that allows water and nutrients to move around.
In animals, a spiral or convolution in the shell of a snail. In plants, a set of leaves, flowers, or branches that spring from a stem at the same point and encircle it.
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