Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Understanding Earth's Underwater Forests: Kelp Demography Off The Coast Of California

Date:
May 10, 1999
Source:
Ecological Society Of America
Summary:
They share many of the same qualities as old growth forests, but the only way to really appreciate these magnificent places is through the lens of a diving mask. Sometimes encompassing several miles of area with towering vegetation, thick canopies, and abundant wildlife, these underwater forests are unfamiliar destinations for the average weekend hiker. In the May issue of Ecological Monographs, researchers from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego (UCSD) investigate the demography of one of earth's largest underwater kelp forests.

They share many of the same qualities as old growth forests, but the only way to really appreciate these magnificent places is through the lens of a diving mask. Sometimes encompassing several miles of area with towering vegetation, thick canopies, and abundant wildlife, these underwater forests are unfamiliar destinations for the average weekend hiker. In the May issue of Ecological Monographs, researchers from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego (UCSD) investigate the demography of one of earth's largest underwater kelp forests.

Within the Point Loma kelp forest community off the coast of San Diego, researchers have been conducting long term ecological kelp studies over three decades. The goal of their research is to evaluate the roles of large-scale, low frequency oceanographic processes on the demography patterns of the area's most conspicuous species of kelp. These processes range from seasonal climate variability to episodic nutrient-rich La Ninas and warm water, nutrient-poor El Ninos.

"As expected, we found considerable differences in the habitat adaptations of the specific kelps over large temporal and spatial scales," says marine ecologist Paul Dayton from UCSD. "Standard experiments of the type that ecologists often do at small scales give different results under different oceanographic climate conditions."

By repeating experiments over an extended period of time and in different areas, researchers were able to observe certain changes within the community that occur from episodic shifts in nutrients and temperature. For instance, during the nine-year study, Macrocystis species were not affected by competitive effects from other species of kelp. On the other hand, Pterygophora californica, an important understory species, exhibited reduced growth and reproduction by the light-limited conditions and competition with Macrocystis during La Nina periods when Macrocystis thrived. When El Nino conditions led to poor Macrocystis growth, the understory kelps did much better.

"By doing small scale experiments over large scales, researchers can gain a much more realistic understanding of oceanic ecosystems," says Dayton.

Although their research found that small-scale events in coastal zones driven by local processes (e.g. competition, disturbance and dispersal) were important, Dayton et al have concluded that the most lasting effects on the kelp communities were the result of very large-scale, low-frequency events, such as the El Nino and especially the La Nina phenomena.

"Statistics analyzing small-scale experiments can give the illusion of power, but our study shows that they might lack generality because very different patterns appear over larger scales," concludes Dayton.

Research was funded by the National Science Foundation, Pew Charitable Trust, California Sea Grant College Program, UCSD, and the City of San Diego.

###Ecological Monographs is a journal published four times a year by the Ecological Society of America (ESA). Copies of the above articles are available free of charge to the press through the Society's Public Affairs Office. Members of the press may also obtain copies of ESA's entire family of publications, which includes Ecology, Ecological Applications, Ecological Monographs, and Conservation Ecology. Others interested in copies of articles should contact the Reprint Department at the address in the masthead.

Founded in 1915, the Ecological Society of America (ESA) is a scientific, non-profit, organization with over 7000 members. Through ESA reports, journals, membership research, and expert testimony to Congress, ESA seeks to promote the responsible application of ecological data and principles to the solution of environmental problems. For more information about the Society and its activities, access ESA's web site at: http://esa.sdsc.edu.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Ecological Society Of America. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Ecological Society Of America. "Understanding Earth's Underwater Forests: Kelp Demography Off The Coast Of California." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 May 1999. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/05/990510064157.htm>.
Ecological Society Of America. (1999, May 10). Understanding Earth's Underwater Forests: Kelp Demography Off The Coast Of California. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/05/990510064157.htm
Ecological Society Of America. "Understanding Earth's Underwater Forests: Kelp Demography Off The Coast Of California." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/05/990510064157.htm (accessed September 22, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Monday, September 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Cat Lovers Flock to Los Angeles

Cat Lovers Flock to Los Angeles

AFP (Sep. 22, 2014) The best funny internet cat videos are honoured at LA's Feline Film Festival. Duration: 00:56 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Washed-Up 'Alien Hairballs' Are Actually Algae

Washed-Up 'Alien Hairballs' Are Actually Algae

Newsy (Sep. 22, 2014) Green balls of algae washed up on Sydney, Australia's Dee Why Beach. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: San Diego Zoo Welcomes Cheetah Cubs

Raw: San Diego Zoo Welcomes Cheetah Cubs

AP (Sep. 20, 2014) The San Diego Zoo has welcomed two Cheetah cubs to its Safari Park. The nearly three-week-old female cubs are being hand fed and are receiving around the clock care. (Sept. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Chocolate Museum Opens in Brussels

Chocolate Museum Opens in Brussels

AFP (Sep. 19, 2014) Considered a "national heritage" in Belgium, chocolate now has a new museum in Brussels. In a former chocolate factory, visitors to the permanent exhibition spaces, workshops and tastings can discover derivatives of the cocoa bean. Duration: 01:00 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins