Marine and Freshwater Research Marine and Freshwater Research Society
Advances in the aquatic sciences
REVIEW

The value of a broad temporal and spatial perspective in understanding dynamics of kelp forest ecosystems

Daniel C. Reed A C , Andrew R. Rassweiler A , Robert J. Miller A , Henry M. Page A and Sally J. Holbrook A B
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Marine Science Institute, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA 93106, USA.

B Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA 93106, USA.

C Corresponding author. Email: dan.reed@lifesci.ucsb.edu

Marine and Freshwater Research 67(1) 14-24 https://doi.org/10.1071/MF14158
Submitted: 15 June 2014  Accepted: 16 August 2014   Published: 6 July 2015

Abstract

Many ecological processes play out over longer time scales and larger spatial scales than can be studied in a traditional 2–4-year grant cycle. Uncertainties in future funding hinder efforts to implement comprehensive research programs that integrate coupled time series observations of physical variables and ecological responses, manipulative experiments and synthetic analyses over the long term. Such research is essential for advancing our understanding of ecological responses associated with climate change, and the physical and biological processes that control them. This need is perhaps greatest for ecosystems that display highly dynamic and spatially complex patterns that are difficult to explain with short-term, small-scale studies. Such is the case for kelp forest ecosystems, which often show tremendous spatial and temporal variability in resource supply, consumer control and physical disturbance across spatial scales of metres to hundreds of kilometres and temporal scales of hours to decades. Here we present four examples from the Santa Barbara Coastal Long-term Ecological Research project that demonstrate the value of a broad temporal and spatial perspective in understanding the causes and ecological consequences of short-term local dynamics of giant kelp forests of California, USA.

Additional keywords: climate change, community structure and dynamics, human impacts, long-term ecological research, marine protected areas, net primary production, stable isotopes, trophic relationships.


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