Background information on the study
The research article Ecological feedbacks stabilize a turf-dominated ecosystem at the southern extent of kelp forests in the Northwest Atlantic discusses the decline of kelp Saccharina latissima between the years 1980 and 2018. It focuses on the kelp forests at the southernmost part of the northwest Atlantic. It looks at how the kelps have been replaced by algae turf. It discusses the factors that contribute to these shifts, including the mechanisms that help the turf reefs to stabilize.
The study was primarily longitudinal because the researchers wanted to compare data collected at the time to the data that was recorded in the 1980s. They sampled the areas of study into three sites of the experiment. They collected data regarding the biomass and density of the kelp, percentage of the cover of the turf in the respective areas, the assemblage of species of turf in the sites, environmental drivers including sea temperature and nutrients data, recruitment of kelp onto turf, the force required to detach kelp from the turf and rock, ability of kelp to hold onto turf and rock, and growth rates of kelp on turf and rocks.
Summary of results
The researchers established that increases in sea temperature contributed greatly to replacement of kelp by turf. Almost half of the kelp was attached to algal turf as opposed to rocks due to limitations in space. Also, the kelp attached on the turf required minimal force to detach it as compared to the one attached on rocks. They also found out that the kelp attached on turf had a slower growth rate.
The decline of kelp forests has a potentially negative impact on the various forms of sea life that ared3ependent on them for shelter and food. The organisms may start dying and some of them may become extinct in the long run if the trend goes on. On this note, the study is significant because it enables environmentalists and marine life experts to have an overview of the extent of the problem.
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