Eco-physiological responses of different life stages of kelps to climate change

Abril 30, 2021

Pamela A. Fernández

Centro i~mar & CeBiB, Universidad de Los Lagos, Puerto Montt, Chile

Anthropogenic climate changes such as ocean warming (OW) and ocean acidification (OA) are affecting the biodiversity and richness of marine ecosystems, leading to e.g., shifts in species geographical distribution across the globe. Kelp forests represent one of the most diverse and productive ecosystem in the Earth, playing critical roles in the structure and functioning of coastal ecosystems and services. However, in the last decades, a clear global decline have been observed in some kelp populations (i.e., Macrocystis pyrifera), causing changes in the associated communities’ structure. Declines in these habitat-forming species have mostly been attributed to OW. However, some populations have remained stable or increased their abundances despite of the warming trend. At local scale, these organisms can be exposed to high environmental variability in CO2/pH, temperature and nutrients due to natural events such as upwelling and/or anthropogenic eutrophication, which might modulate kelp responses to OW and OA. Here I will compare physiological and molecular responses across different populations and life cycle stages (microscopic and macroscopic) of the habitat forming kelp Macrocystis pyrifera.