Kelp Forests Function Differently in Warming Ocean


Kelp forests in the UK and the wider North-East Atlantic will experience a marked change in ecosystem functioning in response to continued ocean warming and the increase of warm-water kelp species, according to a new study led by a team from the Marine Biological Association and the University of Plymouth.

Lead author Albert Pessarrodona, now with the University of Western Australia, said the team studied the ecosystem consequences of an expanding warm-water kelp species, Laminaria ochroleuca, which is proliferating under climate change. The findings are published today in the Journal of Ecology.

“As the ocean warms, species are moving up slopes and towards the poles in order to remain within their preferred environmental conditions. Species with warm affinities are migrating to many habitats previously dominated by cold-water ones, transforming ecosystems as we know them. These so-called novel ecosystems feature a mix of warm- and cold-affinity species, but we don’t know whether they can retain desirable ecological processes and functions which human wellbeing relies on”, Pessarrodona said.

Continue reading at British Ecological Society

Image via Albert Pessarrodona, University of Western Australia