Despite a large body of work on the serpentine-substrate effect on vascular plants, little work has been undertaken to describe algal communities found on serpentine soils derived from peridotite and other ultramafic rocks. We report a preliminary study describing the occurrence of algae and cyanoprokaryotes on mafic and ultramafic substrates from South Africa. Results suggest that slope and aspect play a key role in species diversity and community composition and, although low pH, nutrients and metal content do not reduce species richness, these edaphic features also influence species composition. Further, typical soil genera such as Leptolyngbya, Microcoleus, Phormidium, Chlamydomonas, Chlorococcum and Hantzschia were found at most sites. Chroococcus sp., Scytonema ocellatum, Nostoc linckia, Chlorotetraedron sp., Hormotilopsis gelatinosa, Klebsormidium flaccidium, Pleurococcus sp. and Tetracystis elliptica were unique to one serpentine site. The preliminary survey provides directions for future research on the serpentine-substrate effect on algal and cyanoprokaryote diversity in South Africa.



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The definitive version is available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/BT14207.

NOTE: At the time of publication, the author Nishanta Rajakaruna was not yet affiliated with Cal Poly.

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