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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS - Vol. 429 - Feature article
The canopy of Macrocystis pyrifera (top) can be quantified from LANDSAT imagery (bottom). Photo: Stuart Halewood

Cavanaugh KC, Siegel DA, Reed DC, Dennison PE


Environmental controls of giant-kelp biomass in the Santa Barbara Channel, California


Forests of giant kelp Macrocystis pyrifera are highly dynamic and respond quickly to changes in environmental conditions. Cavanaugh and colleagues examined the drivers of spatial and temporal variability in kelp canopy biomass across a range of scales and found that the effects of wave disturbance and nutrient availability differed at seasonal versus interannual time scales. The roles of these environmental controls also varied spatially: variability in kelp biomass along sheltered coastlines was related to changes in nutrient conditions, while variability along exposed coastlines was determined by wave disturbance. These results indicate substantial regional heterogeneity in the dynamics of this ecosystem engineer species.


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