Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Kelp Forests

Executive summary by darmansjah

A giant kelp can live up to seven years

CALIFORNA Layered like terrestrial rain forests ,from their swaying canopies to their shadowed floors, the giant kelp forest of the California coast are among the  world’s richest ecosystems. Cold, nutrient-rich waters feed the underwater forests, which consist mainly of two kinds of brown macroalgae; giant kelp and bull kelp. Each plant is anchored to rock by gripping holdfasts and held upright by gas bladders. They grow prodigiously-giant kelp can gain 18 inches (45 cm) a day-but they need light to do so and thus are not found below about 100 feet (30 m). waving in the coastal currents, kelp forests shelter a variety of sea life, from snails and sea urchins to rockfish, sea otters, seals, and whales.

SAFE HARBOR A harbor seal curls through strands of kelp. Many marine mammals, including whales, sea lions, and sea otters, find prey and take shelter from storms in kelp forests.

A LIGHT in the FOREST In turquoise light, a diver explore a kelp forest off Anacapa Island, California. Like land plants, giant kelp need light to grow and so are found only in relatively shallow waters.

FLOTATION DEVICES Kelp plants would be bottom-crawling vines were it not for their pneumatocystst, gas bladders that hold them upright. Giant kelp have one bladder at the base of each blade; bull kelp have a single pneumatocyst near the top of each plant

Kelp forests are underwater areas with a high density of kelp. They are recognized as one of the most productive and dynamic ecosystems on Earth.Smaller areas of anchored kelp are called kelp beds.

Kelp forests occur worldwide throughout temperate and polar coastal oceans. In 2007, kelp forests were also discovered in tropical waters near Ecuador.

Physically formed by brown macroalgae of the order Laminariales, kelp forests provide a unique three-dimensional habitat for marine organisms and are a source for understanding many ecological processes. Over the last century, they have been the focus of extensive research, particularly in trophic ecology, and continue to provoke important ideas that are relevant beyond this unique ecosystem. For example, kelp forests can influence coastal oceanographic patterns and provide many ecosystem services.

However, the influence of humans has often contributed to kelp forest degradation. Of particular concern are the effects of overfishing nearshore ecosystems, which can release herbivores from their normal population regulation and result in the over-grazing of kelp and other algae. This can rapidly result in transitions to barren landscapes where relatively few species persist. The implementation of marine protected areas (MPAs) is one management strategy useful for addressing such issues since it may limit the impacts of fishing and buffer the ecosystem from additive effects of other environmental stressors

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