British coralline algae collection

Evidence from laboratory experiments (Kuffner et al. 2008) indicates that elevated seawater carbon dioxide concentrations significantly inhibit recruitment and growth rates of coralline algae. Given that coralline algae species are major structural and ecological components of benthic communities, ocean acidification may have detrimental impacts on these habitats (Brodie et al., 2009).

The UK coralline algae collection at the Natural History Museum is well suited for research into biotic response to environmental change, including potentially ocean acidification, due to:

  • ease of data accessibility
  • occurrence maps
  • extent of databasing
  • new collection efforts

Possible caveats:

  • Many specimens are intertidal in origin, which is not ideal for ocean acidification research.
  • Taxonomy is not straightforward. It ideally requires DNA work, which can be difficult. Any studies aiming to do ocean acidification-type research need to take this into consideration.


Organisms included:

Coralline algae

Timespan covered:

Specimens date back to 1856 and the latest specimens in the collection are from recent fieldwork in 2013.

Collection location:

Cryptogamic Herbarium at the Natural History Museum, London.

Curation and collection management

Preservation and storage:
  • Specimens, often attached to pieces of rock, are housed in boxes or packets in herbarium trays.
  • Most specimens are dry preserved. A small number have been preserved in formalin as part of the algal liquid collections.

Algae curation

Database information:

Approximately 45% of the UK marine algae collections (estimated at around 75,000 specimens) have now been databased; around 3,500 are coralline species.

Algal collection digitisation

Specimen-level British coralline algae collection database Excel (826.0 KB)

Search the botanical specimens database

Supporting information

For most species, occurrence maps and summaries of temporal sampling effort are available.

Contact information

Ian Tittley
Scientific Associate

Juliet Brodie
Research Chair

Joanna Wilbraham
Algae Curator

All are Botany Department staff at the Natural History Museum, London.

Related databases


  • Brodie, J, Andersen, R, Kawachi, M and Millar, A J K (2009) Endangered algal species and how to protect them. Phycologia 48: 423-438.
  • Kuffner, I B, Andersson, A J, Jokiel, P L, Rodgers, K S and Mackenzie, F T (2008) Decreased abundance of crustose coralline algae due to ocean acidification. Nature Geoscience 1: 114-117.