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Why are kelp forests so diverse?

4 min read

Asked by: Brittany Stone

Kelp forests have long been known to harbor a high number and diversity of marine species, from tiny crustaceans to large fish and marine mammals. This biodiversity tends to be attributed to the complex structure and productivity of giant kelp, earning it the title ‘foundational species’.

What makes a kelp forest unique?

A kelp forest has a greater variety and higher density of plants and animals than almost any other ocean community. This is largely because its physically varied structure offers more kinds of homes than habitats with less variation, like beaches.

What makes kelp forests different from other ecosystems?

Kelp forests harbor a greater variety and higher diversity of plants and animals than almost any other ocean community. Many organisms use the thick blades as a safe shelter for their young from predators or even rough storms.

Does kelp increase the amount of biodiversity?

The research showed the presence of kelp boosts the diversity of predators found in an ecosystem, but depresses the abundance of understory algae — which in turn increases the survival odds of algal competitors like sponges and sea squirts.

Are kelp forests common all over the world?

Although algal kelp forest combined with coral reefs only cover 0.1% of Earth’s total surface, they account for 0.9% of global primary productivity. Kelp forests occur worldwide throughout temperate and polar coastal oceans.

How has kelp adapted to its environment?

Although kelps resemble land plants, they are uniquely adapted to life in cool, clear, moving water. They depend on moving water to provide a steady supply of nutrients for photosynthesis. As water flows by the blades, their serrated edges help to increase water mixing.

What is a kelp forest and why is it important?

Kelp forests are composed of rapidly growing large brown algae. This highly productive habitat supports a wide variety of fish, invertebrates, and marine mammals forming the basis for a rich ecosystem.

Why are kelp forests a good place for organisms to live?

Kelp forests provide food, nursery areas, and shelter—including protection from predators and storms—for hundreds of commercially and recreationally important fish species as well as West Coast marine wildlife.

What physical factors influence kelp communities?

The factors influencing kelp forest stability are diverse: kelp harvesting; grazing by fishes, sea urchins, and crustaceans; plant competition; storms; El Niño events; sedimentation; and pollution.

Is kelp a unique form of plant?

Though it resembles a tall grass, giant kelp is not a plant. Instead, it is a brown alga and is part of the large kingdom of life known as the Protista. Most protists are single-celled organisms, but the giant kelp is a complex species and is the largest protist in the world.

What forests are common all over the world?

Tropical rainforests and boreal coniferous forests are the least fragmented, whereas subtropical dry forests and temperate oceanic forests are among the most fragmented. Roughly 80 percent of the world’s forest area is found in patches larger than 1 million hectares (2.5 million acres).

How does kelp spread?

Natural history. Held upright by gas-filled bladders at the base of leaflike blades, kelp fronds grow straight up to the surface toward sunlight, where they spread across the top of the water to form a dense canopy.

What would happens if kelp forests disappear?

These negative effects reach from the ocean to the shore. Red abalone have been severely impacted by the loss of kelp and thus lack of food, causing the abalone fishery to close until at least 2021. Sea birds and marine mammals are also feeling the effects.

Can you dive in kelp forests?

Known to be a diver’s playground, Channel Islands National Park offers a unique and memorable scuba diving experience with ample marine life, giant kelp forests, sea lions, and more.

Can I eat kelp?

You can eat it raw, cooked, as a powder, and it’s included in a number of supplements. Because of its versatility and health benefits, kelp is typically used in sushis, sauces, salads, as seasoning and other products.