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Type: Journal article
Title: Recovering a lost baseline: missing kelp forests from a metropolitan coast
Author: Connell, S.
Russell, B.
Turner, D.
Shepherd, A.
Kildea, T.
Miller, D.
Airoldi, L.
Cheshire, A.
Citation: Marine Ecology-Progress Series, 2008; 360:63-72
Publisher: Inter-research
Issue Date: 2008
ISSN: 0171-8630
Statement of
Sean D. Connell, Bayden D. Russell, David J. Turner, Scoresby A. Shepherd, Timothy Kildea, David Miller, Laura Airoldi, Anthony Cheshire
Abstract: There is concern about historical and continuing loss of canopy-forming algae across the world’s temperate coastline. In South Australia, the sparse cover of canopy-forming algae on the Adelaide metropolitan coast has been of public concern with continuous years of anecdotal evidence culminating in 2 competing views. One view considers that current patterns existed before the onset of urbanisation, whereas the alternate view is that they developed after urbanisation. We tested hypotheses to distinguish between these 2 models, each centred on the reconstruction of historical covers of canopies on the metropolitan coast. Historically, the metropolitan sites were indistinguishable from contemporary populations of reference sites across 70 km (i.e. Gulf St. Vincent), and could also represent a random subset of exposed coastal sites across 2100 km of the greater biogeographic province. Thus there was nothing ‘special’ about the metropolitan sites historically, but today they stand out because they have sparser covers of canopies compared to equivalent locations and times in the gulf and the greater province. This is evidence of wholesale loss of canopy-forming algae (up to 70%) on parts of the Adelaide metropolitan coast since major urbanisation. These findings not only set a research agenda based on the magnitude of loss, but they also bring into question the logic that smaller metropolitan populations of humans create impacts that are trivial relative to that of larger metropolitan centres. Instead, we highlight a need to recognise the ecological context that makes some coastal systems more vulnerable or resistant to increasing human-domination of the world’s coastlines. We discuss challenges to this kind of research that receive little ecological discussion, particularly better leadership and administration, recognising that the systems we study out-live the life spans of individual research groups and operate on spatial scales that exceed the capacity of single research providers.
Keywords: Urban coast; Turf; Canopy algae; Human impact; Anthropogenic; Nutrient; Historical baseline; Habitat loss
Description: © 2008 Author
RMID: 0020081090
DOI: 10.3354/meps07526
Appears in Collections:Earth and Environmental Sciences publications
Environment Institute Leaders publications
Environment Institute publications

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