Native kelps are important habitats for marine wildlife.
A new paper published by a group of researchers at the MBA considers the interactions between native macroalgal canopies and the non-native kelp Undaria pinnatifida (Wakame). A mixture of field surveys and manipulations on the rocky reefs of Plymouth Sound indicated that the spread of Undaria is inhibited by the presence of native competitors, particularly large perennial species (Laminaria spp.). However, the non-native could still be found within dense native canopies, suggesting that disturbance to, or the absence of, canopies is not a prerequisite for Undaria colonisation. The authors conclude that Undaria is now a conspicuous and widespread component of the flora of Plymouth Sound. However, it is unlikely to cause major ecological changes as long as environmental conditions remain favourable for long-lived native species. See below for the full reference and a link to the article.
The influence of native macroalgal canopies on the distribution and abundance of the non-native kelp Undaria pinnatifida in natural reef habitats.
De Leij, R., Epstein, G., Brown, M.P., Smale, D.A. Marine Biology (2017) 164: 156.https://doi.org/10.1007/s00227-017-3183-0
Learn more about macroalgae
Kelp forests are vital for coastal marine life and valuable to people in many ways. See our short films about the importance of kelp: