Craig Wm Schneider's Seaweed Lab

The Bermuda Flora

Reports of benthic (attached) marine red, green, and brown algae from Bermuda began to appear in the literature in the last half of the 19th century based upon collections made on just a few voyages, including the "Challenger Expedition," to the islands (Kemp 1857; Rein 1873; Dickie 1874; Hemsley 1884; Murray 1888, 1889). Some early Bermuda specimens were distributed as part of the Algae exsiccatae Americae Borealis (A.A.B., Farlow et al. 1877-1889).

Frank Shipley Collins
Frank Shipley Collins 1848-1920

In 1917, Frank Shipley Collins and the Rev. Alpheus Baker Hervey produced the first comprehensive marine flora of the islands and distributed the bulk of their specimens in five fascicles entitled 'The Algae of Bermuda' as part of Phycotheca Boreali-Americana (P.B.-A., Collins et al. 1912-1917). Collins was an accountant for the Boston Rubber Shoe Company, and in his spare time, an ardent amateur phycologist. Although his work with marine and freshwater algae was accurate and scholarly, Collins frequently conferred and corresponded with Wm. Gilson Farlow (1844-1919), the prominent cryptogamic botanist at Harvard University who had earlier headed the effort to distribute the A.A.B. (Taylor 1945). Like Collins, Hervey was an amateur phycologist, variously having positions as rector of a Universalist Church and President of St. Lawrence University.

Rev. Alpheus Baker Hervey
Rev. Alpheus Baker Hervey 1839-1931
Marshall Avery Howe
Marshall Avery Howe 1867-1936

A year after Collins & Hervey's (1917) Algae of Bermuda appeared, Marshall Avery Howe (1918) contributed the section, 'Algae', in Nathaniel Lord Britton's Flora of Bermuda, but only included "the more common and more conspicuous algae occuring in the islands." For many years, this was the last report of Bermuda marine algae. In 1949, Wm. Randolph Taylor of the University of Michigan first visited Bermuda with his student, Albert J. Bernatowicz (Taylor 1952), and he included their data along with previous collectors in his comprehensive Marine Algae of the Eastern Tropical and Subtropical Coasts of the Americas (1960). Later, Taylor & Bernatowicz (1969) produced an annotated list of the most common shallow water macroscopic seaweeds of the Bermudas. Since then, additions to the Bermuda marine flora have been published only sporadically.

William Randolph Taylor
William Randolph Taylor, 1895-1990
Richard B. Searles
Richard B. Searles

Richard B. Searles, now Emeritus Professor of Botany at Duke University, was a student of George F. Papenfuss at UC Berkeley receiving his Ph.D. in 1965. I initiated my graduate studies with Rick at Duke in 1970, finishing my Ph.D. in 1975, then taking up my present post at in the Biology Department at Trinity College, Hartford. After we completed our studies on the seaweeds of the southeastern United States concentrated in the Carolinas, we had two deep-water diving expeditions in Bermuda. Using Scuba and Surface Supplied Air (SSA), we collected seaweeds from 12-50 m depths around the islands on the NOAA funded R/V Seahawk cruises of 1983 and 1985 (Searles & Schneider 1987). These offshore reefs had been neglected phycologically for the most part prior to that time. W.R. Taylor (1952) found the bordering reefs to be “seldom accessible because of the long boat trips involved and the rarity of calm days safe for the arduous work involved." He further stated that “dredging from deep water contributed little to [his Bermuda] study, a regrettable lack from the floristic standpoint." In the only deep water study of note, John Joseph Frederick’s dissertation (under Taylor, University of Michigan, 1963) compiled a list of the seaweeds found on the Challenger and Argus Banks on the outer shelf, an area unlike most others off Bermuda in its lack of coral pinnacles and therefore, its suitability for dredging. My former undergraduate student, Chris Lane (B.S., Trinity College ‘99), has been working with me in Bermuda since 1999 and during that time frame earned his Ph.D. on macroalgal molecular phylogenetics at the University of New Brunswick in Gary Saunder’s seaweed lab. Chris is currently an assistant professor in molecular genetics at the University of Rhode Island. Another former student of mine, Dan McDevit (B.S., Trinity College ‘01; Ph.D. ‘10 also from Gary Saunders’ University of New Brunswick lab), joined us on two collecting trips helping us and URI grad student, Thea Popolizio, with barcoding all of the marine macrophytes of Bermuda and comparable material from Key West, Florida. Dan is currently an Asst. Professor of Biology at Edison University.

Craig W. Schneider and Christopher E. Lane
Craig W. Schneider (l) & Christopher E. Lane (r)

Collectively, since the early offshore work with Rick Searles (Searles &Schneider 1987; Schneider & Searles 1997a, 1997b, 1998a, 1998b), we have now published papers including nearly 100 new records and new genera and species from offshore, as well as inshore, Bermuda habitats (Popolizio et al. 2013; Saunders et al. 2006; Schneider 2000, 2004; Schneider & Lane 2005, 2007, 2008; Schneider et al. 2006, 2010, 2011a, 2011b, 2012, 2014a, 2014b; Schneider & Wynne 2009; Wynne & Schneider 1996). Many of these taxa, newly reported for Bermuda, are widespread at least in the warm portions of the Atlantic Ocean, especially the Caribbean Sea. Several reports, including Antithamnionella bermudica, Asteromenia bermudensis, Botryocladia bermudana, B. exquisita, B. flookii, Chondracanthus saundersii, Crassitegula laciniata, C. walsinghamii, Crouania elisiae, Frikkiella searlesii, Griffithsia aestivana, Halopeltis pellucida, Helminthocladia kempii, Meredithia crenata, Polysiphonia plectocarpa and Woelkerlingia sterreri, represent new species and genera described from island collections. All new records collected prior to 2003 were compiled with all historical reports into a checklist of the Bermuda red, green and brown seaweeds (Schneider 2003). Much of this work has been accomplished by molecular-assisted alpha taxonomy (MAAT), and a summary is outlined by Cianciola et al. (2010).

Literature Cited