New Findings Suggest that the Removal of Sea Urchins Result in Helping Kelp Forest Ecosystems

USC Dornsife

USC Sea Grant-funded research recently concluded a decade-long study on determining the effects of reducing sea urchin density in efforts to restore kelp forests in Southern California. Their results were recently published in the April 2021 issue of the Marine Ecology Progress Series. Many years, collaborations, and publications later, along with an unexpected curveball halfway into the study, the researchers conclude that drastically reducing sea urchins results in restoring healthy kelp forest ecosystems.

Beginning in 2012 with initial funding from USC Sea Grant, the Vantuna Research Group at Occidental College in Los Angeles teamed up with The Bay Foundation on this project to study the area of the Palos Verdes Peninsula, just north of Long Beach, CA. Kelp in this region, precisely Giant Kelp (Macrocystis pyrifera), is known as a foundation species that creates an ecosystem for over 700 species and supports high-value recreational and commercial fisheries. Nearly 25 percent of marine organisms in California depend on this ecosystem throughout their life, further revealing the significance of this coastal species.

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