Beaty Biodiversity Museum

Algal Collection

List of Genera:Algal Collection


In the early history of the Department of Botany, there were no faculty members working with benthic marine algae, except for Mrs. Miriam Armstead (see Miriam Ashton). She had taken a course at Woods Hole, Massachusetts, given by William Randolph Taylor and was an instructor in the Department. She donated a small collection of marine algae that she had collected at Woods Hole to the Department Herbarium. This was the nucleus of the Phycological Collection. In the early 1940s Andrew Hutchinson (Head of the Department), John Davidson and R. W. Pillsbury were interested in the benthic marine algae and obtained some field support from commercial sources interested in agarophytes. In the course of their work, a few specimens were added to the Phycological Collection. As an undergraduate (1946-1948) and graduate student (1948) at U.B.C., Robert F. Scagel collected marine algae at a number of sites in British Columbia and northern Washington; these collections were eventually deposited in the Phycological Collection.

When Robert Scagel was appointed to the Department in 1952, after completing a Ph.D. at the University of California, the Phycological Collection occupied less than a full standard herbarium case.


The strength of the U.B.C. Phycological Collection is primarily in the northeast Pacific, where its holdings represent the most comprehensive of any Herbarium. During the course of Robert Scagel’s academic career (1952-1986) and assisted by graduate students and postdoctoral fellows carrying out research on benthic marine algae, Scagel oversaw the expansion of the Phycological Herbarium to its present size of over 67,000 specimens. During this period, with support from U.B.C., the National Research Council of Canada (NSERC), the Defence Research Board of Canada, the Fisheries Research Board of Canada, the Provincial Fisheries Department, the B. C. Research Council and the National Science Foundation (U.S.), collecting activities were carried out all along the Pacific Coast from central California to Alaska, including the Aleutian Islands as far west as Attu Island. Collections from these surveys were deposited in the Phycological Collection at U.B.C. The Alaska representation in the Phycological Collection has been significantly augmented since 1986 by donations from Sandra Lindstrom. In addition, smaller collections made UBC Botanists in Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii, Mauritius, East Africa and Japan and frequent exchanges with other institutions have expanded the geographic breadth of the Collection.

The algae collection is arranged taxonomically by phylum. Within each phylum, the specimens are ordered alphabetically by genus then species. Each species is then arranged in order by geographical regions within each herbarium folder.


The UBC Herbarium Algal database is complete and includes label information for all accessioned specimens in our Algal collection. Most of the data has not yet been edited for typographical errors. Even though specimens have been annotated for nomenclatural and taxonomic changes in the last 20 years, most database entries have not been edited for nomenclatural and taxonomic changes since the data were entered. There are currently over 67,000 specimens databased, with new additions each year.

Access the UBC Herbarium Algal Database: Search


  Paul W. Gabrielson and Sandra C. Lindstrom. 2018. Keys to the Seaweeds and Seagrasses of Southeast Alaska, British Columbia, Washington, and Oregon. Phycological Contribution Number 9. PhycoID. iv + 180 pp.

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  R. F. Scagel, P. W. Gabrielson, D. J. Garbary, L. Golden, M. W. Hawkes, S. C. Lindstrom, J. C. Oliveira and T. B. Widdowson. 1989 [ Reprinted 1993 with minor changes]. A Synopsis of the Benthic Marine Algae of British Columbia, Southeast Alaska, Washington and Oregon. Phycological Contribution Number 3. Department of Botany, University of British Columbia. vi + 535 pp.

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A Flora of the Benthic Marine Algae of Alaska, Phase I, an inventory of existing collections:
Located between the Asian and North American continents and between the Pacific and Arctic Oceans, Alaska has a coastline of over 45,000 miles, longer than the rest of the United States combined. Its diverse coastline supports a rich variety of plants and animals. These organisms have never been systematically inventoried. This study, funded by the Biotic Survey and Inventory Program of the National Science Foundation, provides the first comprehensive cataloguing of the marine benthic algae (seaweeds) occurring along Alaska’s coast. Here, we provide information on the type specimens of species reported to occur in Alaska. For many of these species, especially those with type localities outside the North Pacific, further studies are required to verify their occurrence in Alaska. (Data were last updated Sept 2001.)
A satellite image of Alaska
click to enlarge

Preliminary data on existing herbarium collections made in Alaska over the last 200 years can be accessed here.
(Data were last updated Jan 2003.)

Sandra Lindstrom

Global Warming Study using Crustose Coralline red alga collection

In April of this year, Dr Phil Lebednik (coralline red algal expert and environmental consultant) and Dr Jochen Halfar (Dept. of Geology, Univ. Toronto) investigated the Alaskan crustose coralline red alga, Clathromorphum nereostratum, as part of a global warming study. Dr Halfar has recently completed a field study of coralline red algae confirming their usefulness as climate archives. Clathromorphum nereostratum is a long-lived species (estimated to reach 700 yrs old) that forms calcified crusts up to 20 cm thick. Crusts contain chemical data that give insights into paleoclimate, especially past sea surface temperatures. Dr Lebednik collected specimens of this marine alga in the Aleutian Islands in the late 1960 s and subsequently described it as a new species. For more information visit:


Curator: Dr. Mike Hawkes
Curator: Dr. Sandra Lindstrom
Curator of Coralline Algae: Dr. Patrick Martone
Curator Emeritus and Director Emeritus: Dr. Bob Scagel


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