Climate driven changes in subtidal kelp forest communities in NW Spain

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Journal Article
Marine Environmental Research, 2013, 90 pp. 119 - 127
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Reconstructions suggest a massive decline of nearly 1400ha of kelp forest in North Western Spain in 2007. In line with global rising temperatures, we hypothesized that Sea Surface Temperature (SST) surpassed a lethal threshold for kelp. We examined whether changes in SST correlated to the proposed decline in kelp forest. All investigated SST characteristics suggested to affect kelp abundance increased significantly during the past thirty years, reaching extreme values during the last decade. In addition over the past two decades, the landscape formerly dominated by both cold and warm temperate canopy forming and understory species changed to one dominated by warm temperate understory species, resulting in a loss of vertical community structure. Fisheries landing data of kelp associated species was used to support the suggested change in kelp abundance. Subsequent recovery of the kelp appears to be occurring in deeper waters. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.
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