University Of Tasmania
141594 - Multi-decadal decline in cover of giant kelp Macrocystis pyrifera at the southern limit.pdf (4.12 MB)
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Multi-decadal decline in cover of giant kelp Macrocystis pyrifera at the southern limit of its Australian range

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-20, 19:00 authored by Claire ButlerClaire Butler, Vanessa LucieerVanessa Lucieer, Wotherspoon, SJ, Craig JohnsonCraig Johnson
Knowledge of long-term and multi-scale trends in ecological systems is a vital component in understanding their dynamics. We used Landsat satellite imagery to develop the first long-term (1986-2015) data set describing the cover of dense surface canopies of giant kelp Macrocystis pyrifera around the entire coastline of Tasmania, Australia, and assessed the extent to which potential environmental drivers explain the dynamics of surface canopies at multiple spatial and temporal scales. Broad-scale temporal patterns in canopy cover are correlated with El Niño-Southern Oscillation events, while regional patterns are related to sea surface temperature and nutrient regimes are associated with the East Australian Current. Regression models developed to predict the presence or absence of giant kelp canopy emphasise the importance of sea surface temperature in these systems. Long-term decline in canopy cover is clearly evident in most regions, and in light of increasing thermal stress associated with a changing ocean climate, this raises concern for the future of this species as a major habitat-forming kelp in Australia and some other regions worldwide. Given that Tasmania represents the stronghold of the range of this species in Australia, but is a geographic trap in that there is no suitable habitat for M. pyrifera to the south, our findings support the Federal listing of giant kelp communities in Australia as an endangered marine community type.


Department of Premier and Cabinet


Publication title

Marine Ecology - Progress Series








Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies



Place of publication

Nordbunte 23, Oldendorf Luhe, Germany, D-21385

Rights statement

Copyright 2020 The Authors Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

Repository Status

  • Open

Socio-economic Objectives

Assessment and management of terrestrial ecosystems