The information on this page is a synopsis of
A review of subtidal kelp forests in Ireland: From first descriptions to new habitat monitoring techniques
Kathryn M. Schoenrock,Kenan M. Chan,Tony O’Callaghan,Rory O’Callaghan,Aaron Golden,Stacy A. Krueger-Hadfield,Anne Marie Power. Ecology and Evolution, Volume: 10, Issue: 13, Pages: 6819-6832
First published: 16 June 2020 https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.6345
Kelp forest ecosystems are key parts of the marine environment. Prior to the KelpRes project very little was known on the kelp forest ecosystems in Ireland which are dominated by Cuvie (Laminaria hyperborea). In order to study a species the first step is to examine the distribution of historical and present day records. This was done by examining herbarium samples. journal articles, government reports, online databases as well as soliciting information from dive clubs and citizen science groups.
An examination of the historic records led to a number of key indicator species associated with healthy kelp ecosystems throughout the year. This information was then used to update the National Marine Monitoring Scheme / Adopt a Site species list to allow the health of kelp ecosystems to be monitored. A lack of these species could indicate the kelp ecosystem is unhealthy or that the habitat is too small (kelp park vs kelp forest).
Laminaria hyperborea is a long-lived species reaching ~15 years of age in the west of Ireland. Kelp ecosystems and their resilience to disturbance is an important aspect of the health of the inshore marine environment in Ireland. As well as hosting a high biodiversity kelp forests also serve as a nursery ground for a number of important fish species particularly juvenile gadoids. Based on initial studies of populations genetics Irish sites are genetically distinct from sites in Brittany France, but that there is also greater genetic structure in populations along the west coast of Ireland. The KelpRes project has collected samples from 48 sites and the results of that work should give us a much better understanding of population structure of kelp in Ireland.
Initial studies of kelp ecosystems indicated that the most important aspects of recording effort are focusing on where kelp ecosystems exist (presence of a forest) and then the measuring of the indicator species present. Citizen scientists and Seasearch divers in particular can play a key part in helping us to better understand this fascinating ecosystem. If you aren’t already find out how you can get involved in Seasearch recording here.
Full list of indicator species of kelp ecosystem
|Species||Average abundance m−2||Trophic function|
|Sponge, encrusting Suberites spp.||0.26||Filter feeder|
|Hydroid, Obelia geniculata||0.27||Filter feeder (on kelp)|
|Anemone, Urticina feline||1.54||Predator|
|Cnidarian, Caryophyllia smithii||0.59||Filter feeder|
|Annelid, Eupolymnia nebulosa||0.02||Filter feeder|
|Crustacean, Palaemon serratus||0.016||Predator|
|Mollusc, Gibbula umbilicalis||0.86||Grazer|
|Mollusc, Gibbula cineraria||0.06||Grazer|
|Echinoderm, Asterias rubens (<3 cm diameter)||1.22||Predator|
|Echinoderm, Marthasterias glacialis||0.41||Predator|
|Echinoderm, Holothuria forskali||0.39||Suspension feeder|
|Echinoderm, Echinus esculentus||0.2||Grazer|
|Ascidian, Aplidium punctum||0.78||Filter feeder|
|Ascidian, Distomus variolosus||4.99||Filter feeder|
|Ascidian, Diplostoma spongiforme||0.08||Filter feeder|
|Vertebrate, Pomatoschistus spp.||0.015||Predator|
|Vertebrate, Gobiusculus flavescens||0.39||Predator|