BIOTIC Species Information for Furcellaria lumbricalis
Researched byWill Rayment Data supplied byMarLIN
Refereed byThis information is not refereed.
Scientific nameFurcellaria lumbricalis Common nameA red seaweed
MCS CodeZM337 Recent SynonymsFurcellaria fastigiata, Fucus fastigiata

PhylumRhodophycota Subphylum
Superclass ClassRhodophyceae
SubclassFlorideophycidae OrderGigartinales
Suborder FamilyFurcellariaceae
GenusFurcellaria Specieslumbricalis

Additional Information
Taxonomy References Dickinson, 1963, Fish & Fish, 1996, Dixon & Irvine, 1977, Bird et al., 1991,
General Biology
Growth formArborescent / Arbuscular
Feeding methodPhotoautotroph
Mobility/MovementPermanent attachment
Environmental positionEpilithic
Typical food typesNot relevant HabitAttached
BioturbatorNot relevant FlexibilityHigh (>45 degrees)
FragilityFragile SizeMedium-large(21-50cm)
HeightUp to 30 cm Growth Rate1.3% increase in fresh weight / day
Adult dispersal potentialNone DependencyIndependent
General Biology Additional InformationSize at maturity
Plants become fertile when they achieve their full size of 90-300mm according to habitat, during the 4th to 6th year (Austin 1960a,b).
Growth rate
Bird et al. (1979) reported growth rates of Furcellaria lumbricalis in the laboratory as a doubling in weight in 25-50 days or a 3.3% increase in fresh weight per day. For comparison, the corresponding rates for Chondrus crispus are 10 days and 7.3%, and for Fucus serratus are 12.5 days and 6.2%. These figures suggest that Furcellaria lumbricalis grows slowly in comparison to other red and brown seaweeds. The reported growth rates from the field are even slower. Blinova (1975) (cited in Bird et al., 1979) recorded a doubling in fresh weight every 167 days and Taylor (1975) (cited in Bird et al., 1979) recorded a 1.3% increase in fresh weight per day. From a site in Wales, Austin (1960b) reported annual length increments of 29-37mm in fronds initially ranging from 10-60mm in length.
Environmental position
As well as the commoner epilithic form, a free floating variant Furcellaria lumbricalis forma aegagropila has been reported forming rafts several metres thick on the Danish coast and may occur in Scottish and Irish sea lochs (Levring et al., 1969). The free floating form has a globose thallus of radiating fronds and is smaller in stature and frond diameter, with denser and less regular branching than the attached form (Bird et al., 1991).
Biology References Dickinson, 1963, Fish & Fish, 1996, Dixon & Irvine, 1977, Bird et al., 1991, Austin, 1960a, Austin, 1960b, Bird et al., 1979, Levring et al., 1969, Sharp et al., 1993, Barton, 1901,
Distribution and Habitat
Distribution in Britain & IrelandOccurs around all coasts of Britain and Ireland. There is a paucity of records from eastern England which may reflect a lack of suitable substrata.
Global distributionIn Europe, from northern Norway to the Bay of Biscay, including the Faroe Islands and the Baltic Sea. Possibly occurs in Greenland and Iceland. In North America, occurs in Newfoundland and the Gulf of St Lawrence and its outer coasts.
Biogeographic rangeNot researched Depth rangeIn pools in eulittoral to 30m
MigratoryNon-migratory / Resident   
Distribution Additional InformationAround Prince Edward Island, Canada, Furcellaria lumbricalis is sometimes found growing epiphytically on Phyllophora sp. (Sharp et al., 1993).

Substratum preferencesBedrock
Large to very large boulders
Small boulders
Water column (pelagic)
Physiographic preferencesStrait / sound
Enclosed coast / Embayment
Biological zoneUpper Eulittoral
Lower Eulittoral
Upper Infralittoral
Upper Circalittoral
Upper Eulittoral
Mid Eulittoral
Sublittoral Fringe
Lower Infralittoral
Wave exposureExposed
Moderately Exposed
Very Sheltered
Extremely Sheltered
Tidal stream strength/Water flowModerately Strong (1-3 kn)
Weak (<1 kn)
Very Weak (negligible)
SalinityVariable (18-40 psu)
Reduced (18-30 psu)
Low (<18 psu)
Habitat Preferences Additional Information
Distribution References Dickinson, 1963, Fish & Fish, 1996, Dixon & Irvine, 1977, Bird et al., 1991, Austin, 1960a, Austin, 1960b, Levring et al., 1969, Norton, 1985, Sharp et al., 1993, Hardy & Guiry, 2003,
Reproduction/Life History
Reproductive typeVegetative
See additional information
Developmental mechanismSpores (sexual / asexual)
Reproductive SeasonDecember to April Reproductive LocationInsufficient information
Reproductive frequencyAnnual episodic Regeneration potential No
Life spanInsufficient information Age at reproductive maturity3-5 years
Generation time6-10 years Fecundity1 million
Egg/propagule size50 µm diameter spores Fertilization type
Larval/Juvenile dispersal potentialInsufficient information Larval settlement periodInsufficient information
Duration of larval stageInsufficient information   
Reproduction Preferences Additional InformationReproductive Type
The typical attached form of Furcellaria lumbricalis reproduces asexually through tetrasporangial plants and sexually through dioecious gametangial plants (Dixon & Irvine, 1977). The male and female plants are usually in equal proportions but are outnumbered by the tetrasporophytes. The free floating form Furcellaria lumbricalis forma aegagropila reproduces only vegetatively through fragmentation, regeneration and proliferation (Bird et al., 1991). Proliferation, where propagules develop on the parent plant and then detach, is probably the most important mechanism.
Reproduction and seasonality
The mode and timing of reproduction in Furcellaria lumbricalis was reviewed by Dixon & Irvine (1977) and Bird et al. (1991). On the male plants, spermatangial ramuli begin development in late October, developing superficially in the much swollen apical regions and are conspicuous until late April or early May. Discharge of the spermatia occurs from December to April with a peak in February and March. On the female plants, the carpogonial branches are initiated in late December, with carpogonia developing internally in the apical regions. Fertilization probably only occurs over a short period commencing in mid January. The zygote is retained on the female plant but the carposporophyte is not obvious until mid summer. Maturation of the carposporophytes does not occur until a year after fertilization, with a massive discharge of carpospores occurring over a 2-4 week period from late December. 1 million 35-50µm diameter carpospores may be released from an average sized plant when a tract of cells disintegrates forming an ill defined pore to the exterior.
On diploid plants, tetrasporangia are initiated in early April and develop in markedly thickened apical regions. They mature in December and 1-2 million tetraspores are liberated per plant over 2 weeks following disintegration of the thallus surface.
The fruiting pods of all plants fall when they are past maturity and new shoots arise from the resulting truncated tips.
Reproduction References Dickinson, 1963, Dixon & Irvine, 1977, Bird et al., 1991, Austin, 1960a, Austin, 1960b, Levring et al., 1969,
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