NCEAS Project 12660

Global impacts of climate change on kelp forest ecosystems

  • Jarrett E. Byrnes
  • Sean D. Connell
  • Mark Novak

ActivityDatesFurther Information
Working Group9th—13th January 2013Participant List  
Working Group28th May—1st June 2013Participant List  

We propose a working group to examine the global impact of climate change on kelp forest ecosystems. Kelp forests are temperate and boreal rocky reefs dominated by macroalgae from the order Laminariales. Kelps currently dominate temperate near shore ecosystems, covering 25% of the world's coastline (Steneck et al 2002, Cavanaugh Unpublished Data). They are critically important species, forming the foundation of many temperate and boreal coastal ecosystems(Dayton 1985). Anticipated change to kelps and their associated communities could have a large impact on the goods and services they provide. While individual impacts of extreme climate events have been explored at the regional or subregional level by many groups around the world(Scheibling & Lauzon-Guay 2010), we currently a unified global understanding of how the slower, longer-term environmental shifts from climate change will alter kelp forest communities globally. Furthermore, our current knowledge is often limited to kelps alone, or kelps and a few key grazers. Our working group will fill these gaps to provide a synthetic picture of how climate change will alter the future of kelp forests. Our efforts will thereby jump start a growing global network of kelp forest researchers (50+ and growing) to better coordinate efforts to forecast climate change’s effects on kelp forests. Towards that end, we propose three activities: 1) We will identify relevant abiotic impacts of climate change in each major kelp dominated biogeographic region. We will then perform a meta-analysis of experimental and observational studies to examine the impact of predicted abiotic changes on kelps, other dominant space-holders, herbivores, and predators. 2) We will create a unified global database of all extant kelp community monitoring data sets. We will use these to model the direct and indirect impacts of changes in climate on community structure and function and highlight local deviations from global trends. 3) We will create a global database of species interaction networks for all kelp dominated regions. We will use results from our meta-analysis and detection of global trends to examine how extinctions, invasions, and more subtle changes in the abundance of different species or guilds of species will alter future network structures.

TypeProducts of NCEAS Research
Journal Article Byrnes, Jarrett E. In press. Global synthesis of climate impacts on kelp forest ecosystems.
Journal Article Connell, Sean D. In press. Synthetic review of multiple stressor impacts on kelp forest communities.
Presentations Johnson, Craig. In press. Theoretical analysis of interactions between climate change and multiple local stressors in kelp ecosystems.
Journal Article Krumhansl, Kira. In press. Rates of change of global kelp abundance over 35 years.
Journal Article Novak, Mark. In press. Food web propogation of climate impacts in kelp forests systems.
Journal Article Perez-Matus, Alejandro. In press. Meta-analysis of kelp impacts on fish abundance.
Journal Article Wernberg, Thomas. In press. Global biogeography of kelps.