First record of Golden kelp in Ireland
During a field survey of Béal an Mhuirthead (Belmullet), Co. Mayo, a small population of golden kelp (Laminaria ochroleuca) was discovered in a sheltered cove called Scots Port on the northwest facing coastline of Béal an Mhuirthead, September 10th, 2018. The species was originally recognized by Dr. Kathryn Schoenrock of NUI Galway with help from the Porcupine group and samples were subsequently collected for genetic analysis at the University of Alabama at Birmingham by Dr. Stacy A. Krueger-Hadfield and positively identified as golden kelp.
The dominant kelp species found in Irish waters is Cuvie (Laminaria hyperborea) and is found on all Irish coasts, while golden kelp is typically found in the southern EU waters and its northern range is restricted to the south coast of England, France and Spain. Golden kelp has been found to harbour less biodiversity than Cuvie and the migration of this species to Ireland has the potential to impact marine inshore biodiversity. Because Scots Port is located ~1040 km away from the nearest population of L. ochroleuca in the United Kingdom and ~1630 km away from the nearest population in France the exact pathway for the expansion of this species range is unknown. However, genetic analyses would suggest that this population is more diverse than UK populations, resembling the richness described for populations in the Iberian Peninsula.
The present range expansion of Laminaria ochroleuca highlights a critical need to continue monitoring Irish kelp forests. The knowledge of Irish kelp forest ecosystem is limited, including the most basic information, such as population distributions. The presence of L. ochroleuca, which is known to harbour much less biodiversity than its congeneric and current dominant species in Boreal kelp forests, necessitates further studies beginning with obtaining distribution records.
This research was accepted for publication in Marine Biodiversity Record and can be accessed here.
Schoenrock, K.M., O’Callaghan, T., O’Callaghan, R. et al. First record of Laminaria ochroleuca Bachelot de la Pylaie in Ireland in Béal an Mhuirthead, county Mayo. Mar Biodivers Rec 12, 9 (2019).
Dr. Kathryn Schoenrock was supported by the Irish Research Council during the period of discovery. Ongoing research is supported by the Environmental Protection Agency via the project “Kelp Res: the diversity and resilience of Kelp Ecosystems in Ireland”. This project is funded under the EPA Research Programme 2014-2020. The EPA Research Programme is a Government of Ireland initiative funded by the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment.
This project is funded under the EPA Research Programme 2014-2020. The EPA Research Programme is a Government of Ireland initiative funded by the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment.
Dr. Stacy Krueger-Hadfield
Stacy A. Krueger-Hadfield is an assistant professor of biology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She is an evolutionary ecologist and works on algae and invertebrates in order to understand more about the maintenance of biodiversity. Her lab will be genotyping samples collected with KelpRes to explore the connectivity of kelp populations in Ireland.