, Volume 187, Issue 1, pp 291–304 | Cite as

Movement of pulsed resource subsidies from kelp forests to deep fjords

  • Karen Filbee-Dexter
  • Thomas Wernberg
  • Kjell Magnus Norderhaug
  • Eva Ramirez-Llodra
  • Morten Foldager Pedersen
Ecosystem ecology – original research


Resource subsidies in the form of allochthonous primary production drive secondary production in many ecosystems, often sustaining diversity and overall productivity. Despite their importance in structuring marine communities, there is little understanding of how subsidies move through juxtaposed habitats and into recipient communities. We investigated the transport of detritus from kelp forests to a deep Arctic fjord (northern Norway). We quantified the seasonal abundance and size structure of kelp detritus in shallow subtidal (0‒12 m), deep subtidal (12‒85 m), and deep fjord (400‒450 m) habitats using a combination of camera surveys, dive observations, and detritus collections over 1 year. Detritus formed dense accumulations in habitats adjacent to kelp forests, and the timing of depositions coincided with the discrete loss of whole kelp blades during spring. We tracked these blades through the deep subtidal and into the deep fjord, and showed they act as a short-term resource pulse transported over several weeks. In deep subtidal regions, detritus consisted mostly of fragments and its depth distribution was similar across seasons (50% of total observations). Tagged pieces of detritus moved slowly out of kelp forests (displaced 4‒50 m (mean 11.8 m ± 8.5 SD) in 11‒17 days, based on minimum estimates from recovered pieces), and most (75%) variability in the rate of export was related to wave exposure and substrate. Tight resource coupling between kelp forests and deep fjords indicate that changes in kelp abundance would propagate through to deep fjord ecosystems, with likely consequences for the ecosystem functioning and services they provide.


Seaweeds Connectivity Coastal ecosystems Deep sea Laminaria hyperborea 



This work was funded by the Norwegian Research Council through the KELPEX project (NRC Grant no. 255085/E40). In addition, TW received funding from The Australian Research Council (DP170100023). We are grateful for assistance in the field from Stein Fredriksen, Camilla With Fagerli, Nicolai Lond Frisk, Malte Jarlgaard Hansen, and Sabine Popp. The comments of the editor and two reviewers greatly help improve the original manuscript.

Supplementary material

442_2018_4121_MOESM1_ESM.docx (30 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 30 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Norwegian Institute for Water Research (NIVA)OsloNorway
  2. 2.UWA Oceans Institute and School of Biological SciencesUniversity of Western AustraliaCrawleyAustralia
  3. 3.Institute of Marine ResearchHisNorway
  4. 4.Department of Science and Environment (DSE)Roskilde UniversityRoskildeDenmark

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