Restoration Research on Kelp Forest Habitats in the Salish Sea
Kelp beds are marine sanctuaries, providing some of the most productive ecosystems on the planet and serving as critical habitat and refuge for many species, including juvenile salmon. Recently, declines in kelp populations have been reported by several groups including fisherman and kelp harvesters in the Pacific Northwest. However, the extent and cause of this habitat loss is unknown. It is thought that an increase in stressors associated with climate change (rising ocean temperatures or acidification) is a major contributor. Thus, if lost habitats are to be restored, populations that are resilient to these stressors would be the best to use because they are most likely to survive. In this project we are estimating the extent of kelp forest cover/loss in the Salish Sea, identifying populations capable of growing under stressful conditions, and comparing growth and survival at sites currently under restoration.