Press release

The Stoneworts (Chara species) – pioneers and keystone species under threat

The mountain lake ‘Sieben Quellen’ near Sulzbach-Rosenberg in Bavaria, Germany: Chara rudis can form dense meadows and cover the whole bottom of this calcium-rich, nutrient-poor lake. Photo: © Klaus van de Weyer, lanaplan GbR

Stoneworts belonging to the genus Chara are algae of the year 2012. They were selected by algal researchers of the Phycology Section of the German Botanical Society because members of this genus represent so many different algal life strategies. According to algal expert Dr Irmgard Blindow from the Ernst-Moritz-Arndt-University Greifswald, some Chara species are able to conquer new aquatic habitats as ‘pioneers’ whilst others exhibit very specific growth requirements, and once having colonised an area, can shape an ecosystem. The decision to declare Chara ‘Alga of the year’ acknowledges the importance of this group of algae which comprises 20 native species included in the Red List of threatened species.

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Press release

More images of the alga Chara

The stonewort Chara horrida had disappeared from German waters in 1980 but has now been rediscovered by algal researchers in the Bodden Waters off the Baltic island of Hiddensee . The alga which can be up to 40 cm in length has so many spines that its main axis is hardly visible which has resulted in its descriptive German common name ‘struppig’ which means ‘bristly’ or ‘rugged’. Photo on top: © Sven Dahlke, Biologische Station Hiddensee, Germany.

Photos of the press release "Alga of the Year 2012": The Stoneworts (Chara species) – pioneers and keystone species under threat


Use of the images is only permitted in connection with reporting on the topic ‘alga of the year 2012’ and only if the photographers are acknowledged in the format: first name, second name, institution. Commercial use of the images is not permitted.

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Contacts for the media

PD Dr. Irmgard Blindow

The expert for Chara is head of the Biologische Station, University of Greifswald, on the isle of Hiddensee

Phone.: ++49 (0) 38300 - 50251
E-mail: blindi[at]

HD Dr. Burkhard Becker

The Secretary of the Phycology Section researches the evolution of land plants at the University of Cologne, Germany

Phone: ++49 (0)221-4707022

E-mail: b.becker[at]

Further Information

Members of the Phycology Section (Algology) ("> conduct research on algae and investigate, amongst others, taxonomical, ecological, physiological and molecular topics on macro- and microalgae. The Section promotes algal research and supports young scientists. The Section is one of five subject-specific Sections of the German Society for Plant Sciences (Deutsche Botanische Gesellschaft, DBG,">

Text: Dr. Esther Schwarz-Weig:">
Translation: Dr. Dagmar Stengel: National University of Ireland, Galway, and Dr. Inka Bartsch, Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Bremerhaven