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Threats and knowledge gaps for ecosystem services provided by kelp forests: a northeast Atlantic perspective

Threats and knowledge gaps for ecosystem services provided by kelp forests: a northeast Atlantic perspective
Threats and knowledge gaps for ecosystem services provided by kelp forests: a northeast Atlantic perspective
Kelp forests along temperate and polar coastlines represent some of most diverse and productive habitats on the Earth. Here, we synthesize information from >60 years of research on the structure and functioning of kelp forest habitats in European waters, with particular emphasis on the coasts of UK and Ireland, which represents an important biogeographic transition zone that is subjected to multiple threats and stressors. We collated existing data on kelp distribution and abundance and reanalyzed these data to describe the structure of kelp forests along a spatial gradient spanning more than 10° of latitude. We then examined ecological goods and services provided by kelp forests, including elevated secondary production, nutrient cycling, energy capture and flow, coastal defense, direct applications, and biodiversity repositories, before discussing current and future threats posed to kelp forests and identifying key knowledge gaps. Recent evidence unequivocally demonstrates that the structure of kelp forests in the NE Atlantic is changing in response to climate- and non-climate-related stressors, which will have major implications for the structure and functioning of coastal ecosystems. However, kelp-dominated habitats along much of the NE Atlantic coastline have been chronically understudied over recent decades in comparison with other regions such as Australasia and North America. The paucity of field-based research currently impedes our ability to conserve and manage these important ecosystems. Targeted observational and experimental research conducted over large spatial and temporal scales is urgently needed to address these knowledge gaps.
kelp forests, Laminariales, marine biodiversity, subtidal benthic habitats, temperate reefs
4016-4038
Smale, Dan A.
19528a3a-f66c-474d-ae13-c6405b8014ab
Burrows, Michael T.
a38026ff-26eb-4a99-8cdd-34bf6b9b479d
Moore, Pippa
2b83382a-8fbe-425d-b581-012173937ccc
O'Connor, Nessa
966e44ab-63db-4a87-ae89-3d3274013d75
Hawkins, Stephen J.
758fe1c1-30cd-4ed1-bb65-2471dc7c11fa
Smale, Dan A.
19528a3a-f66c-474d-ae13-c6405b8014ab
Burrows, Michael T.
a38026ff-26eb-4a99-8cdd-34bf6b9b479d
Moore, Pippa
2b83382a-8fbe-425d-b581-012173937ccc
O'Connor, Nessa
966e44ab-63db-4a87-ae89-3d3274013d75
Hawkins, Stephen J.
758fe1c1-30cd-4ed1-bb65-2471dc7c11fa

Smale, Dan A., Burrows, Michael T., Moore, Pippa, O'Connor, Nessa and Hawkins, Stephen J. (2013) Threats and knowledge gaps for ecosystem services provided by kelp forests: a northeast Atlantic perspective. Ecology and Evolution, 3 (11), 4016-4038. (doi:10.1002/ece3.774).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Kelp forests along temperate and polar coastlines represent some of most diverse and productive habitats on the Earth. Here, we synthesize information from >60 years of research on the structure and functioning of kelp forest habitats in European waters, with particular emphasis on the coasts of UK and Ireland, which represents an important biogeographic transition zone that is subjected to multiple threats and stressors. We collated existing data on kelp distribution and abundance and reanalyzed these data to describe the structure of kelp forests along a spatial gradient spanning more than 10° of latitude. We then examined ecological goods and services provided by kelp forests, including elevated secondary production, nutrient cycling, energy capture and flow, coastal defense, direct applications, and biodiversity repositories, before discussing current and future threats posed to kelp forests and identifying key knowledge gaps. Recent evidence unequivocally demonstrates that the structure of kelp forests in the NE Atlantic is changing in response to climate- and non-climate-related stressors, which will have major implications for the structure and functioning of coastal ecosystems. However, kelp-dominated habitats along much of the NE Atlantic coastline have been chronically understudied over recent decades in comparison with other regions such as Australasia and North America. The paucity of field-based research currently impedes our ability to conserve and manage these important ecosystems. Targeted observational and experimental research conducted over large spatial and temporal scales is urgently needed to address these knowledge gaps.

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More information

Published date: October 2013
Keywords: kelp forests, Laminariales, marine biodiversity, subtidal benthic habitats, temperate reefs
Organisations: Ocean and Earth Science, Centre for Biological Sciences

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 359634
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/359634
PURE UUID: 5f664f77-23d7-4f55-8806-6fabea36c600

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 06 Nov 2013 17:04
Last modified: 27 Apr 2022 08:36

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Contributors

Author: Dan A. Smale
Author: Michael T. Burrows
Author: Pippa Moore
Author: Nessa O'Connor

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