Monitoring and evaluation of kelp forest ecosystems in the MLPA marine protected area network

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Start/End: May, 2019 to November, 2021

Kelp forests and shallow rocky reefs represent some of California’s most iconic nearshore marine ecosystems. They support ecologically, economically, and culturally important native species. They also provide valuable ecosystem services including tourism and nearshore recreational and commercial fisheries.

For these reasons, California has targeted kelp forest and shallow rocky reef habitats for protection in the Marine Life Protection Act Master Plan, and these habitats are listed as a priority in the MPA Monitoring Action Plan. Continued monitoring of kelp forest ecosystems is especially important to the state given the recent dramatic declines in both bull kelp (Nereocystis luetkeana) on California’s north coast, and giant kelp (Macrocystis pyrifera) on California’s central and south coasts, which have resulted in significant adverse ecological and economic impacts.

This project will aggregate historical biological and environmental data from previous surveys of kelp forest and shallow rocky reefs, including baseline MPA monitoring. It will also collect biological data in surveys at MPAs and reference sites through dive surveys, collect kelp canopy data via remote sensing, and collect environmental data using remote sensing and in situ instruments. The project will also include integrated analyses to assess trends in kelp forest and shallow rocky reef communities at the scale of individual MPAs as well as regional scales.

Project monitoring sites

This project plans to conduct monitoring at the following Tier I sites (listed from north to south):

  • Ten Mile SMRmaps of survey locations
    For full-size maps of survey locations, see the full-sized images at the top right corner of page.
  • MacKerricher SMCA
  • Saunders Reef SMCA
  • Stewarts Point SMR
  • Salt Point SMCA
  • Montara SMR
  • Carmel Bay SMCA
  • Point Lobos SMR
  • Point Buchon SMR
  • Campus Point SMCA
  • Harris Point SMR
  • Scorpion SMR
  • Anacapa Island SMCA
  • Anacapa Island SMR
  • Point Dume SMCA
  • Point Dume SMR
  • Blue Cavern Onshore SMCA
  • Laguna Beach SMR
  • Dana Point SMCA
  • Swami's SMCA
  • South La Jolla SMR
  • Principal Investigators

    University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC)

Co-principal Investigators