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Identifying key factors for transplantation success in the restoration of kelp (Ecklonia radiata) beds


Graham, TDJ and Morris, RL and Strain, EMA and Swearer, SE, Identifying key factors for transplantation success in the restoration of kelp (Ecklonia radiata) beds, Restoration Ecology Article e13536. ISSN 1061-2971 (2021) [Refereed Article]

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DOI: doi:10.1111/rec.13536


Kelp beds are a defining feature of temperate reefs worldwide, playing a fundamental role as ecosystem engineers and primary producers. Overgrazing by the native sea urchin Heliocidaris erythrogramma has driven a phase shift from kelp beds of Ecklonia radiata to barrens across much of Port Phillip Bay, Victoria. Here we present the results of a transplant experiment, which took juvenile E. radiata sporophytes from a source reef and attached them with silicon tubing to basalt tiles. Following an initial localized cull, we monitored the development and survival of individual E. radiata to investigate the drivers of loss during transplantation, including disturbance (control vs. procedural control), receiving environment (kelp canopy vs. no canopy), and translocation site (within vs. between reefs). We also investigated the role of holdfast reattachment and developmental stage on kelp survival. 69% of the kelp transplants survived over the 17 weeks, with no increased loss resulting from transplantation to a reef 41 km away. We observed high survival of transplants in the absence of ongoing urchin exclusion. Furthermore, the provision of a canopy is not necessary and may result in adverse impacts on survival and development of juvenile sporophyte transplants presumably through competition for light. Individuals at the collection location (controls) were unlikely to survive to maturity suggesting their removal for transplanting is likely to have minimal impact on the kelp population of the donor reef. The methods used could be feasibly upscaled for rehabilitating or restoring kelp beds both in Port Phillip Bay and elsewhere.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:restoration, kelp, transplant
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Ecology
Research Field:Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology)
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Marine systems and management
Objective Field:Rehabilitation or conservation of marine environments
UTAS Author:Strain, EMA (Dr Beth Strain)
ID Code:146417
Year Published:2021
Deposited By:Sustainable Marine Research Collaboration
Deposited On:2021-09-06
Last Modified:2021-09-06

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