Algae are primitive plants with no vascular structure, largely dependent upon water for their sustenance and reproduction. They range in size from microscopic cells the size of bacteria (the blue-green algae) to the massive fronds of kelps (Laminaria spp.), which are the tallest marine plants known; in Nova Scotia they can reach up to 10 m in length. Those that float freely in the water are known as phytoplankton and are generally single-celled and microscopic, although some species are large enough to be observed by the naked eye. Multi-celled or macrophytic algae are usually attached to the bottom or other solid substrate (benthic).
Algae occupy either freshwater or marine environments, sometimes both, and some species can tolerate relatively extreme conditions of temperature and salinity. In addition, some can be found in moist terrestrial habitats. Because they are immersed, algae do not require specialized tissues for internal transport, as do the higher land plants. They obtain their nutrients directly from the surrounding water by diffusion. Algae also use water, much as some land plants use wind, to carry sex cells for fertilization and then disperse the spores.
This Document Includes:
Red Algae (Rhodophyta)
Dinoflagellates (Dinophyta or Pyrrophyta)
Distribution of Marine Algae
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Additional Keywords:spring bloom, red tides, paralytic shellfish poisoning, bioluminescence, dulse, lichens, haptophytes, Desmids, cyanobacteria, Irish Moss, seaweeds, pigments.
T6.2 Oceanic Environments
T6.3 Coastal Aquatic Environments
T8.1 Freshwater Hydrology
T8.2 Freshwater Environments
T10.5 Seed-bearing Plants
T11.12 Marine Mammals
T11.13 Freshwater Fishes
T11.17 Marine Invertebrates
T12.8 Fresh Water and Resources
T12.10 Plants and Resources
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