Climate-driven shifts in species' distributions may exacerbate the impacts of storm disturbances on North-east Atlantic kelp forests

Smale, DA; Vance, T. 2015 Climate-driven shifts in species' distributions may exacerbate the impacts of storm disturbances on North-east Atlantic kelp forests. Marine and Freshwater Research, 67 (1). 65. 10.1071/MF14155

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/MF14155

Abstract/Summary

Physical disturbance through wave action is a major determinant of kelp forest structure. The North-east Atlantic storm season of 2013–14 was unusually severe; the south coast of the UK was subjected to 6 of the 12 most intense storms recorded in the past 5 years. Inshore significant wave heights and periods exceeded 7 m and 13 s with two storms classified as ‘1-in-30 year’ events. We examined the impacts of the storm season on kelp canopies at three study sites. Monospecific canopies comprising Laminaria hyperborea were unaffected by storm disturbance. However, at one study site a mixed canopy comprising Laminaria ochroleuca, Saccharina latissima and L. hyperborea was significantly altered by the storms, due to decreased abundances of the former two species. Quantification of freshly severed stipes suggested that the ‘warm water’ kelp L. ochroleuca was more susceptible to storm damage than L. hyperborea. Overall, kelp canopies were highly resistant to storm disturbance because of the low vulnerability of L. hyperborea to intense wave action. However, if climate-driven shifts in kelp species distributions result in more mixed canopies, as predicted, then resistance to storm disturbance may be eroded.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Additional Keywords: benthic communities, disturbance ecology, Laminariales, macroalgae, physical disturbance, subtidal reefs.
Divisions: Marine Biological Association of the UK > Ecosystems and Environmental Change > Global environmental change and marine ecosystems
Depositing User: Dr Dan Smale
Date made live: 19 Sep 2016 16:26
Last Modified: 06 Jun 2017 16:17
URI: http://plymsea.ac.uk/id/eprint/7177

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