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