Click on image for
Laurencia nidifica attached to a Porites
lobata coral head. Notice the filamentous epiphytes attached
to the thalli.
Laurencia nidifica, or limu mane‘one‘o,
indigenous Hawaiian species
that is in direct competition with
the more successful invasive
Laurencia spp. on a
limestone mound at French Frigate Shoals in the Northwest Hawaiian Islands.
Firm, erect plant, to 10 cm tall, arising
singly or in tufts from an entangled base. Terete axes are relatively thin,
0.5 - 1 mm in diameter, branching rarely more than 3 orders with the main
divisions subdichotomous. Next orders are varied: alternate, opposite, or
occasionally whorled. Branchlets are short, with blunt, indented tips.
Because of the high variation in color, branching pattern and texture, it is
not simple to identify Laurencia species in the field.
Cortical cells subquadrate, walls not projecting; lenticular
thickenings occasional, not in every section. Tetrasporangia of parallel
Laurencia nidifica is often found on reef flats and in
lower intertidal habitats, 1 to 3 meters deep, attached to eroded coral or
basalt rocks. Regularly found with Acanthophora spicifera, with which
L. nidifica may even be entangled. Often found with epiphytic Hypnea
musciformis or H. cervicornis attached to its upper branches.
Hawai‘i: Laysan, O‘ahu, Kaua‘i,
Mechanism of Introduction: Indigenous
Worldwide: South Pacific and Indian
Laurencia nidifica is a common shallow subtidal red alga
that is often found in communities with
Hypnea musciformis and H. cervicornis. L. nidifica and A.
spicifera are often found attached to one another or even entangled. L.
nidifica was recorded in Hawaii as early as 1863, leading to the belief
that it is an indigenous species on Hawaiian reefs. The near proximity and
greater biomass of the invasive, A. spicifera, to L.
nidifica suggests that the invasive is competing with the indigenous
L. nidifica for substrate and forcing it seaward into deeper waters. In
a study of the distribution of these species, L. nidifica was the
only species that increased in biomass when A. spicifera decreased in
Hypnea cervicornis was often found epiphytically
attached to the upper branches of L. nidifica until the introduction
of another invasive, H. musciformis. Since then, both Hypnea
species are found attached to L. nidifica, with the more
competitively successful H. musciformis more prevalent. The
introduction of the two invasives, A. spicifera and H. musciformis,
has changed the community structure of the shallow reef flat from L.
nidifica with the epiphytic H. cervicornis attached, to the more
aggressive A. spicifiera and the epiphytic H. musciformis.
This species is used as a condiment by Hawaiians because of
its peppery taste.
Abbott, I.A., 1999. Marine Red Algae of the Hawaiian
Islands. Bishop Museum Press, Honolulu, Hawai‘i.
Abbott, I.A., 1996. Limu: An ethnobotancial study of some
Hawaiian seaweeds. National Tropical Botanical Garden, Lawai, Kaua‘i,
Hawai‘i, 4th edition.
McDermid, K.J. 1988. Community ecology of some intertidal
subtropitcal algae, and the biology and taxonomy of Hawaiian Laurencia
Ph. D. dissertation, University of Hawai‘i at Manoa.
McDermid, K.J., 1988. Laurencia from the Hawaiian Islands: key,
annotated list, and distribution of the species. In I.A. Abbott, ed.,
Taxonomy of Economic Seaweeds, Vol. 2., pp. 231-245. California Sea
Grant College Program, Report No. T-CSGCP-018.
Magruder, W.H. and JW. Hunt, 1979. Seaweeds of Hawai‘i. Oriental Publ.
Co., Honolulu, Hawai‘i.
Russell, D. J. and G. H. Balazs, 2000. Identification manual for
dietary vegetation of the Hawaiian green turtle, Chelonia mydas.
NOAA TM-NMFS-SWFSC-294. 49 pp.
Russell, D.J., 1992. The ecological invasion of Hawaiian reefs by two
marine red algae, Acanthophora spicifera (Vahl) Boerg. and
Hypnea musciformis (Wulfen) J.Ag., and their association with two
native species, and Laurencia nidifica and Hypnea cervicornis.
J.Ag. ICES Mar. Sci. Symp., 194: 110-125.
Ecological Success of Alien/Invasive Algae in Hawai‘i:
Hawai‘i Coral Reef Network.