Modeling kelp forest distribution and biomass along temperate rocky coastlines
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- Gorman, D., Bajjouk, T., Populus, J. et al. Mar Biol (2013) 160: 309. doi:10.1007/s00227-012-2089-0
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We address the global deficit of data describing kelp forest distribution, relative covers and biomass by testing the ability of species distribution models to predict these attributes at locations where data are currently limited. We integrated biological ground truth data with high-resolution environmental datasets to develop generalized additive models that accurately predict the structure of Laminaria forests within the Bay of Morlaix (48°42′42″N, 3°55′40″W). Forest distribution and proportional covers were predicted using water depth, light availability, wave exposure and sediment dynamics. The biomass of individual kelp species was modeled by supplementing these same variables with measures of seafloor slope and benthic position. Biomass predictions for Laminaria digitata and Laminaria hyperborea contrast the physiological tolerances of these species to light and wave exposure gradients. As a direct management output, we produced high-resolution maps (25 m2 grids) that closely match independent field data and provide vital information for marine spatial planning.