Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania
Help for our kelp: restoring Tasmania’s disappearing giant kelp forests
Kelp forests are the foundation of the Great Southern Reef, Australia’s continent-wide temperate reef system that supports high levels of biodiversity, endemism and economic value.
Unfortunately, in Australia and elsewhere, kelp forests are experiencing habitat loss due to climate change, overgrazing from herbivores, and coastal development and pollution. Globally, some of the most dramatic declines have occurred in Tasmania, where 95% of giant kelp (Macrocystis pyrifera) forests have disappeared from eastern Tasmania in recent decades.
The feasibility of restoration of these underwater giants – which can reach heights above 35 m and grow 50 cm per day – is being assessed as one potential tool for kelp forest conservation. We present a novel restoration approach involving the identification, breeding, and outplanting of more warmwater-tolerant giant kelp strains.
This work is the foundation of potential efforts to future-proof our giant kelp restoration efforts in an ocean warming hotspot.
Read more about Cayne's work here
Tasmanian researchers are searching for solutions. Photo: IMAS/Craig Sanderson