KelpRes: the diversity and resilience of kelp ecosystems in Ireland

Kelps are ecosystem engineers in Ireland's coastal environment that are important to a wide range of species because they provide protection, structure and food for diverse community assemblages.. The dominant species on Ireland's rocky shores is Cuvie, Laminaria hyperborea, which can be found from Arctic coastlines down to the Iberian Peninsula. Though long lived (up to 15 years), Cuvie is a vulnerable marine species that is threatened by ocean warming and heatwaves, and can be replaced by non-native species such as the Golden kelp (Laminaria ochroleuca) or Wakame (Undaria pinnatifida) which host a depauperate marine system. Like kelp forests worldwide, it is important that we understand ecosystem function in our nearshore habitats and evaluate the diversity and potential resilience (ability to withstand or adapt) to climate change.

We have just begun to understand kelp forests in Ireland through a recent survey targeting the productivity and ecology of Irish kelp forests, funded by the IRC government postdoctoral program. In this EPA research program we will extend our understanding of kelp ecosystems’ by investigating evolutionary (genetic diversity) and ecological aspects of kelp populations and their ability to recover after large disturbance events. We will also develop parallel approaches to assess and monitor kelp forest distribution and 'health' for future shareholders. If you would like to contribute kelp forest records including abundance of notable invertebrates and fish please see our online recorder form:

In this project we hope to provide a better understanding of kelp ecosystems and the associated socio-economic aspects, governance and behavioural changes, including important issues of preservation, restoration, and the demonstration of the economic value and social benefits which is currently lacking in these iconic coastal ecosystem.


See our twitter site for current news: @Kelp_Res


This research is funded by the Environmental Protection Agency

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