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The role of kelp species as biogenic habitat formers in coastal marine ecosystems

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Pip MooreORCiD


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© 2017 Elsevier B.V. Kelps are ecologically important primary producers and ecosystem engineers, and play a central role in structuring nearshore temperate habitats. They play an important role in nutrient cycling, energy capture and transfer, and provide biogenic coastal defence. Kelps also provide extensive substrata for colonising organisms, ameliorate conditions for understorey assemblages, and provide three-dimensional habitat structure for a vast array of marine plants and animals, including a number of commercially important species. Here, we review and synthesize existing knowledge on the functioning of kelp species as biogenic habitat providers. We examine biodiversity patterns associated with kelp holdfasts, stipes and blades, as well as the wider understorey habitat, and search for generality between kelp species and biogeographic regions. Environmental factors influencing biogenic habitat provision and the structure of associated assemblages are considered, as are current threats to kelp-dominated ecosystems. Despite considerable variability between species and regions, kelps are key habitat-forming species that support elevated levels of biodiversity, diverse and abundant assemblages and facilitate trophic linkages. Enhanced appreciation and better management of kelp forests are vital for ensuring sustainability of ecological goods and services derived from temperate marine ecosystems.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Teagle H, Hawkins SJ, Moore PJ, Smale DA

Publication type: Review

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology

Year: 2017

Volume: 492

Pages: 81-98

Print publication date: 01/07/2017

Online publication date: 14/02/2017

Acceptance date: 02/04/2016

ISSN (print): 0022-0981

Publisher: Elsevier B.V.


DOI: 10.1016/j.jembe.2017.01.017