African Journal of Marine Science

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The seaweeds of Angola: the transition between tropical and temperate marine floras on the west coast of southern Africa

RJ Anderson, JJ Bolton, AJ Smit, D da Silva Neto


The seaweed flora of Angola is relatively poorly known. Most of the 124 records listed for the country come from a 1974 British Natural History Museum expedition to the central and southern parts of that country. Previous biogeographic studies treated the Angolan seaweed flora as a whole and grouped it with those of certain West African islands as transitional between a Tropical West African seaweed flora (essentially extending from Senegal to Gabon) and temperate floras to the north and south of this truly tropical region. In the present study a total of 99 species and subspecies of seaweeds was collected from the intertidal zone and shallow sublittoral zones at five sites in the north of Angola and four sites in the south. The biogeographic distributions of our records were examined and compared with the temperate flora of Namibia to the south and the flora of Ghana to the north (as an example of a well-studied Tropical West African flora). Multivariate analyses of our presence/absence records showed differences between northern and southern sites (cluster analysis [Jaccard, average linkage] and detrended correspondence analysis). All Angolan sites were clearly different from floras of south, central and northern Namibia, which are considered to be strictly temperate in nature. Northern Angolan sites grouped more closely with Ghana than with southern Angolan sites. Distribution patterns within Angola are discussed in relation to monthly sea surface temperature data that were processed for this region. We conclude that the overall affinities of the Angolan seaweed flora, as represented by our collections, are Tropical West African, but with a well-developed temperate element in southern Angola (from about 13° S) comprising mainly cooler-water species from the Benguela Marine Province of Namibia and western South Africa. Our collections add about 45 species to the Angolan seaweed flora, raising the total number of species to around 169. This total approaches that of Ghana which, with about 200 species, is considered to have the richest seaweed flora in Tropical West Africa.

Keywords: Benguela Marine Province, biogeography, Ghana, Gulf of Guinea Marine Province, Namibia, seaweed diversity, West Africa

African Journal of Marine Science 2012, 34(1): 1–13
AJOL African Journals Online