Invasion History

First Non-native North American Tidal Record: 1991
First Non-native West Coast Tidal Record:
First Non-native East/Gulf Coast Tidal Record: 1991

General Invasion History:

North American Invasion History:



Taxonomic Tree

Kingdom:   Plantae
Phylum:   Rhodophycota
Class:   Rhodophyceae
Subclass:   Florideophycideae
Order:   Gigartinales
Family:   Areschougiaceae
Genus:   Kappaphycus
Species:   alvarezii


Eucheuma alvarezii (Doty, 1985)

Potentially Misidentified Species

Kappaphycus cottoni

Kappaphycus striatus



In Hawaii, populations of Kappaphycus alvarezi reproduce only vegetatively (Smith 2002), but sexual reproduction has occurred under laboratorry conditions (Bulboa et al. 2008, cited b Chandrasekaran 2008)


Humans (cultured for carrageenan)

Trophic Status:

Primary Producer



General HabitatOyster ReefNone
General HabitatCoral reefNone
General HabitatMangrovesNone
Salinity RangePolyhaline18-30 PSU
Salinity RangeEuhaline30-40 PSU
Tidal RangeSubtidalNone
Vertical HabitatEpibenthicNone

Life History

Tolerances and Life History Parameters

Maximum Temperature (ºC)31Water of this temperature caused ~70% mortality of cultured Kappaphycus in Fiji (Ask 2001).
Broad Temperature RangeNoneSubtropical-Tropical
Broad Salinity RangeNonePolyhaline-Euhaline

General Impacts

Regional Impacts

CIO-IINoneEcological ImpactCompetition
Overgrowing coral reefs, smothering corals (Acropora sp.), and depriving them of light (Chandrasekaran et al. 2008,)
CIO-IINoneEcological ImpactHabitat Change
Overgowing and killing corals (Chandrasekaran et al. 2008)
SP-XXINoneEcological ImpactCompetition
In Kane'ohe Bay, 'In some areas this organism is clearly competitively dominant, occupying up to 80% of the substrate. Because of its large stature, Kappaphycus also appears to be competing with coral and may be able to overgrow live coral colonies.' (Smith et al. 2002).
SP-XXINoneEcological ImpactFood/Prey
Kappaphycus spp. is a less preferred item for herbivorus fishes in Kane'ohe Bay, which may contribute to its competitiveness. However, it is preferentially grazed by native sea urchins, providing a possible means of biocontrol (Conklin and Smith 2005).
SP-VIINoneEconomic ImpactFisheries
Seaweed farming of Kappaphycus alvarezi was started in 1966 or 1975, and continued on a small scale, but collapsed in 1993 because of excessive costs and low porduction. The program was redsigned and restarted in 1997 (Ask et al. 2003; Pickering et al. 2007)
CAR-IIINoneEcological ImpactHabitat Change
Smothering seagrasses, corals, and mangroves in Bocas del Toro, Panama (Sellers et al. 2015)

Regional Distribution Map

Bioregion Region Name Year Invasion Status Population Status
EAS-I None 0 Native Estab
EAS-III None 0 Native Estab
EAS-II None 0 Native Estab
SP-XXI None 1974 Def Estab
CIO-II None 2000 Def Estab
SP-VII None 1986 Def Estab
SP-V None 1990 Def Estab
SP-VIII None 1990 Def Estab
SP-XI None 1990 Def Unk
SP-XVI None 1977 Def Estab
EA-III None 0 Def Unk
CAR-III None 2013 Def Estab
SA-II None 1995 Def Unk
SP-XIII None 1985 Def Unk
CAR-I Northern Yucatan, Gulf of Mexico, Florida Straits, to Middle Eastern Florida 1991 Def Unk
PAN_CAR Panama Caribbean Coast 2013 Def Estab

Occurrence Map

OCC_ID Author Year Date Locality Status Latitude Longitude


Albright , Sarah L.; Sellers, Andrew J.; Davidson, Timothy M. (2021) Native urchins as potential agents of biotic resistance to the introduced alga Kappaphycus alvarezii in a tropical lagoon, Biological Invasions Published online: <missing location>

Areces, Arsenio Jose, Mallea; Villaneuva, Felipe Carlos Alvarez; Bernardi, Juliane; Cabrera, Ruben (2014) Ecological risk assessment of the introduction of exotic carageenophytes in the tropical Western Atlantic, Journal of Applied Phycology 26: 2055-2066

Ask, E. I.; Ledua, E.; Batibasaga, A.; Mario, S (2003) Proceedings of the 17th International Seaweed Symposium, Oxford University Press, Oxford UK. Pp. 81-85

Carlton, James T.; Eldredge, Lucius (2009) Marine bioinvasions of Hawaii: The introduced and cryptogenic marine and estuarine animals and plants of the Hawaiian archipelago., Bishop Museum Bulletin in Cultural and Environmental Studies 4: 1-202

Castelar, Beatriz; Reis, Renata Perpetuo; Bastos, Marcos (2009) [Contribution to the environmental monitoring protocol for Kappaphycus alvarezii (Doty) Doty ex P.C. Silva (Areschougiaceae - Rhodophyta) cultivation at Sepetiba bay, Rio de Janeiro State, Brazil).], Acta Botanica Brasilica 23(3): 613-617

Chandrasekaran, S.; Arun Nagendran N.; Pandiaraja, D.; Krishnankutty, N.; Kamalakannan, B. (2008) Bioinvasion of Kappaphycus alvarezii on corals in the Gulf of Mannar, India., Current Science 94(9): 1167-1172

Conklin, Eric J.; Smith, Jennifer E. (2005) Abundance and spread of the invasive red algae, Kappaphycus spp., in Kane’ohe Bay, Hawai’i and an experimental assessment of management options., Biological Invasions 7: 1029-1039

da Silva, Beatriz Nogueira Torrano; Amancio, Carlos Eduardo; Filho, Eurico Cabral de Oliveira (2010) Exotic marine macroalgae on the Brazilian coast: A revision, Oecologia Australis 14(2): 403-414

de Paula, Edison Jose; Pereira, Ricardo toledo Lima; Ohna, Masao (2002) Growth rate of the carrageenophyte Kappaphycus alvarezii (Rhodophyta, Gigartinales) introduced in subtropical waters of Sao Paulo State, Brazil., Phycological Research 50: 1-9.

Eldredge, L.G. (1994) Perspectives in aquatic exotic species management in the Pacific Islands Vol. I. Introductions of commercially significant aquatic organisms to the Pacific islands, South Pacific Commission. Inshore Fisheries Research Project, Technical Document 7: 1-127

2004-2023 AlgaeBase. National University of Ireland Galway--

Kamalakannan, B.; Jeevamani, J. Joyson Joe; Nagendran, N. Arun; Pandiaraja, D.; Chandrasekaran, S. (2014) Impact of removal of invasive species Kappaphycus alvarezii from coral reef ecosystem in Gulf of Mannar, India, Current Science 106: 1401-1408

Ku'ulei Rodgers, S.; Cox, Evelyn F. (1999) Rate of spread of introduced rhodophytes Kappaphycus alvarezii, Kappaphycus striatum, and Gracilaria salicornia and their current distributions in Kane'ohe Bay, O'ahu, Hawai'i., Pacific Science 53(3): 232-241

Lemus Castro, Andres J. (1999) Exotic seaweeds and its presence in Venezuelan seas, Acta Cientifica Venezolana 50: 11-14

Lopes, Rubens M. (Ed.) (2009) <missing title>, Ministry of the Environment, Brasilia, Brazil. Pp. 1-440

Mandal, Subir Kumar; Mantri, Vaibhav; Haldar, Soumya; Eswara, Karuppanan; Ganesan, Meenakshisundaram (2011) Invasion potential of Kappaphycus alvarezii on corals at Kurusadai Island, Gulf of Mannar, India, Algae 25: 205-216

Pickering, Timothy D.;Skelton, Posa; Sulu, Reuben J. (2007) Intentional introductions of commercially harvested alien seaweeds., Botanica Marina 50: 338-350

Sellers, Andrew J.; Ruiz, Gregory M.; Leung, Brian; Torchin, Mark E. (2015) Regional variation in parasite species richness and abundance in the introduced range of the invasive lionfish, Pterois volitans, PLOS ONE Published online: <missing location>

Sellers, Andrew; Saltonstall, Kristen; Davidson, Timothy M. (2015) The introduced alga Kappaphycus alvarezii (Doty ex P. C. Silva, 1996) in abandoned cultivation sites in Bocas del Toro, Panama, Bioinvasions Records 4: in press

Silva, Paul C.; Menez, Ernani G.; Moe, Richard L. (1987) Catalog of the benthic marine algae of the Philippines, Smithsonian Contributions to the Marine Sciences 27: 1-179

Smith, Jennifer E.: Hunter, Cynthia; Smith, Celia M. (2002) Distribution and reproductive characteristics of nonindigenous and invasive marine algae in the Hawaiian Islands., Pacific Science 56(3): 299-315

Tavares, M. R.; .Franco, A. C. S. ; . Ventura, C. R. R.; .Santos, L. N. (2021) Geographic distribution of Ophiothela brittle stars (Echinodermata: Ophiuroidea): substrate use plasticity and implications for the silent invasion of O. mirabilis in the Atlantic, Hydrobiologia 848: 2093-2103

Tsuda, Roy T. (2002) Checklist and bibliography of the marine benthic algae from the Marshall Islands, University of Guam Marine Labotarory Technical Report 106: 1-33

Tsuda, Roy T. (2006) Checklist and bibliography of the marine benthic algae within Chuuk, Pohnpei, and Kosrae states, Federated States of Micronesia, Bishop Museum Technical Report 34: 1-43

Wynne, Michael J. (2011) The benthic marine algae of the tropical and subtropical Western Atlantic: changes in our understanding in the last half century, Algae 26(2): 109-140

Zuccarello, Giuseppe C.; Critchley, Alan T.; Smith, Jennifer; Sieber, Volker; Lhonneur, Genevieve Bleicher; West, John A. (2006) Systematics and genetic variation in commercial Kappaphycus and Eucheuma (Solieriaceae, Rhodophyta), Journal of Applied Phycology 18: 643-651