Environmental controls on spatial patterns in the long-term persistence of giant kelp in central California

Prepared in collaboration with University of California at Santa Cruz, University of California at Los Angeles
By: , and 



As marine management is moving towards the practice of protecting static areas, it is 44 important to make sure protected areas capture and protect persistent populations. Rocky reefs in 45 many temperate areas worldwide serve as habitat for canopy forming macroalgae and these 46 structure forming species of kelps (order Laminariales) often serve as important habitat for a great 47 diversity of species. Macrocystis pyrifera is the most common canopy forming kelp species found 48 along the coast of California but the distribution and abundance of M. pyrifera varies in space and 49 time. The purpose of this study is to determine what environmental parameters are correlated with 50 the spatial and temporal persistence of M. pyrifera along the central coast of California and how 51 well those environmental parameters can be used to predict areas where M. pyrifera is more likely 52 to persist. Nine environmental variables considered in this study included depth of the seafloor, 53 structure of the rocky reef, proportion of rocky reef, size of kelp patch, biomass of kelp within a 54 patch, distance from the edge of a kelp patch, sea surface temperature, wave orbital velocities, and 55 population connectivity of individual kelp patches. Using a generalized linear mixed effects model 56 (GLMM), the persistence of M. pyrifera was significantly associated with seven of the nine 57 variables considered: depth, complexity of the rocky reef, proportion of rock, patch biomass, 58 distance from the edge of a patch, population connectivity, and wave-orbital velocities. These 59 seven environmental variables were then used to predict the persistence of kelp across the central 60 coast and these predictions were compared to a reserved dataset of M. pyrifera persistence, which 61 was not used in the creation of the GLMM. The environmental variables were shown to accurately 62 predict the persistence of M. pyrifera within the central coast of California (r = 0.71, P<0.001). 63 Because persistence of giant kelp is important to the community structure of kelp forests, 64 understanding those factors that support persistent populations of M. pyrifera will enable more 65 effective management of these ecosystems.

Study Area

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Environmental controls on spatial patterns in the long-term persistence of giant kelp in central California
Series title Ecology
DOI 10.1890/15-0267.1
Volume 86
Issue 1
Year Published 2016
Language English
Publisher Ecological Society of America
Contributing office(s) Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center
Description 16 p.
First page 45
Last page 60
Country United States
State California
Other Geospatial Pigeon Point, Point Conception
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details