Kelp forests function differently in the warming ocean – ScienceDaily



Kelp forests in the United Kingdom and the North-East Atlantic will undergo a remarkable change in the functioning of the ecosystem in response to the ongoing ocean warming and the increase in hot water species, according to a new study led by a Marine team Biological Association and the University of Plymouth.

Chief author Albert Pessarrodona, now at the University of Western Australia, said the team has investigated the ecosystem effects of a growing hot water species, Laminaria ochroleuca, which is spreading under climate change. The findings are published today in the Journal of Ecology.

"As the ocean warms up, species move on slopes and in the direction of the poles to stay in their preferred environmental conditions." Species with warm kinship migrate to many habitats that were previously dominated by cold water, and transform ecosystems as we know them. so-called new ecosystems contain a mix of species with warm and cold affinity, but we do not know whether they can maintain desirable ecological processes and functions that human well-being relies on, "Pessarrodona said.

The scientists studied kelp forests in the southwest of the UK, where the hot water bowl has grown abundantly in recent years – probably at the expense of a cold water species that is less resistant to warming seas.

"The hot water kelp Laminaria ochroleuca was first discovered in the UK at the end of the 1940s, but is now a common phenomenon along the southwest coast and it is predicted that it will continue to grow in the northern direction in response to climate change, with the largest Part of the UK and large parts of the wider Northeast Atlantic area are being occupied coastline by the end of the century, "co-authored the study Dr. Dan Smale, of the Marine Biological Association, said.

Most studies to date have looked at how man-made non-native invasive species of ecosystems change. Much less attention was paid to the effects on the functioning of ecosystems of species that spread to new habitats as a result of climate change.

Pessarrodona added: "We have established that the hot water keel functioned mainly as a conveyor belt for food production, grows throughout the year and expands leafy and provides a continuous supply of food, growing during short, discrete periods of the year."

In general, the warm water was functionally "faster", with the organic material being quickly processed by herbivores such as sea snails and limpets and with higher decomposition rates.

"Our findings suggest that the proliferation of the hot water kernel will change the dynamics of Northeast Atlantic marine forests by changing the quantity, quality and availability of food." In other research, we have also seen that the hot water kernel has less biodiversity than the cold species. the supply of habitat and food can ultimately affect commercially important species such as crabs, lobsters and coastal fish, "said Smale.

However, it is not all bad news. Some of the functions that research investigated, such as carbon absorption or food supply, were maintained or even improved. Moreover, the replacement of cold water beetles by hot springs in the Northeast Atlantic means that this important habitat is likely to survive in the future, in contrast to several other areas in the world, including Japan, Canada and Australia, where kelp forests disappear completely.

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Material delivered by British Ecological Society. Originally written by Sabrina Weiss. Note: content can be edited for style and length.


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