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Cryptopleura ruprechtiana - Grape tongue

Geographic range:
Southeast Alaska to Punta Maria, Baja California

Key features:
Flattened, branching red alga with small ruffles along the edge of the blades.

Similar species:
--

Habitat(s):
bay (rocky shore), exposed rocky shore, kelp forest, protected rocky shore
Cryptopleura ruprechtiana - Grape tongue image

 

Primary common name:
Grape Tongue
  ITIS code:
13228
Synonymous name(s):
Nitophyllum ruprechtianum, Cryptopleura farlowianum, Botryoglossum farlowianum, Botryoglossum ruprechtianum, Botryoglossum anomalum
General grouping:
Red seaweed/algae


Geographic Range
Range description:
Cryptopleura ruprechtiana can be found from Southeast Alaska to Punta Maria, Baja California.
Northern latitude extent:
--
  Southern latitude extent:
--
East longitude extent:
--
  West longitude extent:
--


Intertidal Height
Lowest intertidal height:
0 meters OR 0 feet
  Highest intertidal height:
30 meters OR 99.9 feet
Intertidal height notes:
Cryptopleura ruprechtiana occurs in the intertidal.


Subtidal Depth Range
Minimum depth:
0 meters OR 0 feet
  Maximum depth:
30 meters OR 99.9 feet
Subtidal depth notes:
Cryptopleura ruprechtiana is common in the subtidal.


Habitats
Habitat(s):
bay (rocky shore), exposed rocky shore, kelp forest, protected rocky shore
Habitat notes:
Cryptopleura ruprechtiana lives on rocks in the low intertidal and subtidal down to 30 m. It seems to grow well in areas of moderate to heavy surf, but is considered an obligate understory alga. This means that in order to thrive in these rough waters it requires some protection from the surf and light by either a canopy layer or some other physical barrier, especially in the intertidal.


Abundance
Relative abundance:
Cryptopleura ruprechtiana is most commonly found in the subtidal and less commonly in the intertidal.


Species Description
General description:
Cryptopleura ruprechtiana is a red alga in the family Delesseriaceae, Order Ceramiales, Class Rhodophyceae and the Division Rhodophyta. The common name, Grape Tongue, refers to the clusters of sori which proliferate along the edges of the tongue-like thallus.
Distinctive features:
Cryptopleura ruprechtiana is a bright to deep red alga with an iridescent purplish or brownish shine. The thallus is flattened and erect and divided into many fan-shaped blades. The edges are often covered with small ruffles and serves as the most distinguishing feature of this alga although it is not present in all specimens. It has a distinct midrib at the base of the stipe. However this becomes progressively more difficult to see in the upper parts where it is replaced by a fine network of veins. The plant is anchored by a holdfast that can be either discoidal or somewhat branched. The holdfast is generally attached to a rock, though sometimes it attaches epiphytically to other algae.
Size:
Cryptopleura ruprechtiana is generally between 10 and 40 cm tall and the thalli are 3 – 9 cm across.


Natural History
General natural history:
Cryptopleura ruprechtiana, like all plants, uses chlorophyll and other photosynthetic pigments to trap light and convert it to energy. Red algae specifically use chlorophyll a, though this pigment can only absorb parts of the spectrum of visible light. Accessory pigments are used in conjunction with chlorophyll a to absorb the full range of light available to the plant. These extra pigments also allow this alga to absorb light at greater depths. The red accessory pigments specifically utilized by Cryptopleura ruprechtiana, phycoerythrin and betacarotene, give rise to its deep purplish-red color.

Cryptopleura ruprechtiana depends on its community to thrive, but also provides substrate and habitat. This species has a tendency to dry out quickly and therefore requires protection from the surf and light by a canopy of other algae or habitual physical barrier. It often grows as an epiphyte, which is a plant that grows on top of another plant, but is also a host to many epiphytes including crustose corallines and the parasitic alga Gonimophyllum skottsbergii. Animals also find their home on and in the holdfast of Cryptopleura ruprechtiana. Snails, such as Littorina sp. and small Tegula sp., often live on the blades and stipe. While smaller animals, such as copepods, are sometimes found within the holdfast.

There is still question as to whether this species should be placed in the genus Botryoglossum or Cryptopleura and if there is a separate species, Cryptopleura farlowianum, in California.
Predator(s):
--
Prey:
Cryptopleura ruprechtiana nourishes itself through photosynthesis, converting the energy of light to the energy of carbohydrate molecules.


Feeding behavior
Feeding behavior(s):
Photosynthetic
Feeding behavior notes:
All red algae, including Cryptopleura ruprechtiana, use chlorophyll a to convert the photon from sunlight to useable energy.
Data supplied by SIMoN Sanctuary Integrated Monitoring Network
Anthopleura xanthogrammica - Giant green anemone

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