Kelp forest distributions in Ireland are hard to define because it is a subsurface species (not like the Giant Kelp of the Pacific) and often only seen as beach wrack or during recreational dives. Historical records provide patchy information on Cuvie sightings, which improve alongside technologies including SCUBA and satellite imagery. Today, Laminaria hyperborea can be found from the Iberian Peninsula to the coastlines of the Arctic, but past records indicate ranges much further south during ice ages (the ice cap shade marine environments) and predictions indicate it will move northward with climate change.

Ocean warming is specifically restricting distribution of Cuvie in its southernmost range where populations are thought to house more private, and potentially resilient, genetic diversity (glacial refugia). Our preliminary work indicates that the southwestern marine habitats have more diverse Cuvie populations, but this region needs to be more thoroughly investigated along with the rest of Ireland. Dr Stacy Krueger-Hadfield is an expert in algal mating systems and evolutionary ecology, and will assist with molecular analysis on this project.

For future monitoring of sub surface kelps, open access remote sensing resources like Copernicus/LANDSAT should be tapped for information. We aim to create an easy access to for kelp forest mapping that can be easily used by stakeholders. Dr. Aaron Golden and Dr. Arjun Chennu (MPIMM, ASSEMBLE research exchange) will target this issue.