Indirect predator effects on feeding behavior of kelp forest invertebrates


Project Description

Kelps are brown macroalgae that grow on coastal temperate rocky reefs around the world. Kelp forests provide food and shelter for hundreds of species of animals, many of which are commercially important (i.e. rockfish, sea bass, lobsters, sea urchins, sea cucumbers). Additionally, Kelp itself is an economically important resource: kelp derived thickening agents are found in a variety of food products (i.e., salad dressings, ice cream, toothpaste) and for abalone aquaculture ventures. Kelp forests are among the most productive and dynamic systems in the world. Kelp plants can grow up to 2 linear feet per day when conditions are right, but very little is known about where all of this kelp biomass ends up. Only a small portion of kelp production is thought to be grazed directly. The rest of kelp ends up as detritus (detached pieces of kelp) that is utilized within the kelp forest, washed onto beaches, floated out to sea, or sunk into deep sea canyons. In each case, high production is fueled by these subsidies. Measuring the extent to which kelp is utilized by each of these pathways adds to our fascinating base knowledge of ecosystems and may help policy makers with societal decisions regarding management and conservation of kelp forests. 

UCSB California NanoSystems Institute