Project Description: Response of Kelp Forest Communities to Disturbance

Summary

The objective of this project is to understand how kelp forests are affected by disturbance and climate change. We will establish local experimental plots of the standardized KEEN protocols that will complement other standardized removals at a global scale. This will allow us to explicitly test the response of kelps and their associated communities to large disturbances that cause the removal of kelp plants. Leveraging this global network will allow us to answer questions at a much larger spatial scale than what would be possible individually.

Student Involvement

Two CSUMB undergraduate students will work during summer of 2017 on field work associated with this project.

Broader Significance

Coastal communities rely on oceans for many vital ecosystem services. Local beaches provide recreation, supporting large economies based on tourism. However, increases in anthropogenic stressors, including climate change, is degrading these ecosystems and could be reducing the effectiveness of the services we depend on. Giant kelp (Macrocystis pyrifera), is a large canopy forming algae that creates an underwater structural habitat for a wide diversity of invertebrate, fish, and algal species. Not only are kelp forests the foundation for impressive biodiversity, but they also support extensive tourism and fishing economies in California. This project proposes to examine the response of kelp forests and associated communities to anthropogenic impacts and disturbances. This project joins a larger global network of kelp forest ecologists: the Kelp Ecosystem Ecology Network (KEEN) to examine the response to disturbance and raising temperatures, by implementing a standardized experimental kelp removal that will be replicated in kelp habitats globally.

IfAME PI

Dr. Alison Haupt

Financial Support

Research Grants

Field Support

CSUMB Small Boats Program

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