Decline in Kelp in West Europe and Climate

TitleDecline in Kelp in West Europe and Climate
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsRaybaud, V, Beaugrand, G, Goberville, E, Delebecq, G, Destombe, C, Valero, M, Davoult, D, Morin, P, Gevaert, F
JournalPLoS ONE

Kelp ecosystems form widespread underwater forests playing a major role in structuring the biodiversity at a regional scale. Some seaweeds such as Laminaria digitata are also economically important, being exploited for their alginate and iodine content. Although some studies have shown that kelp ecosystems are regressing and that multiple causes are likely to be at the origin of the disappearance of certain populations, the extent to which global climate change may play a role remains speculative. Here we show that many populations of L. digitata along European coasts are on the verge of local extinction due to a climate-caused increase in sea temperature. By modeling the spatial distribution of the seaweed, we evaluate the possible implications of global climate change for the geographical patterns of the species using temperature data from the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project phase 5 (CMIP5). Projections of the future range of L. digitata throughout the 21st century show large shifts in the suitable habitat of the kelp and a northward retreat of the southern limit of its current geographic distribution from France to Danish coasts and the southern regions of the United Kingdom. However, these projections depend on the intensity of warming. A medium to high warming is expected to lead to the extirpation of the species as early as the first half of the 21st century and there is high confidence that regional extinction will spread northwards by the end of this century. These changes are likely to cause the decline of species whose life cycle is closely dependent upon L. digitata and lead to the establishment of new ecosystems with lower ecological and economic values.

PubMed ID23840397
Catégorie HCERES
ACL - Peer-reviewed articles
Publication coopération et recherche SUD