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Marine Algae of Southern Cape Cod, Massachusetts and Adjacent Islands

Last updated 4 months ago

The northeastern coast of North America is an interesting place to study the effects of human activity on the marine environment. The Cape Cod peninsula in Massachusetts is effectively a barrier between cold northern ocean waters and temperate southern waters. The marine species composition on the north side of the Cape is thus markedly different from that found on the south side. Because Cape Cod is the northern limit of the distribution of many warm and temperate-water species, and the southernmost point in the range of numerous cold-water species of marine algae, New England waters are particularly interesting for the study of possible geographical range shifts of algal species caused by warming ocean temperatures. An interesting question is: are species previously found on the south side of Cape Cod, now limited to the north side of the Cape, or even further north, because of an increase in ocean temperatures due to global warming? This species list is based on the historical (ca. 1873-1978) marine algae collection of the MBLWHOI Library Herbarium (SPWH) in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. Comparing recent observations with this historical baseline data might possibly reveal the disappearance of some species from waters south of Cape Cod due to increasing ocean temperatures.