The once common kelp forests and abalone fisheries of the Shikine Island in Japan have now vanished. Scientists from Japan identified that these temperate coastal marine ecosystems are transforming into much “simpler” ones, deprived of their biodiversity aesthetic values and complexity.
Researchers from the University of Tsukuba find that the combined effects of ocean warming and acidification in temperate marine ecosystems are resulting in a loss of kelp habitat and a shift to a simple turf-dominated ecosystem. Such changes will lead to a loss of the ecosystem services provided by productive macroalgal forests or tropicalized coral-dominated reefs. These results highlight the need for reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. Image Credit: University of Tsukuba.
Scientists from the University of Tsukuba along with their international collaborators investigated the combined effects of ocean warming and acidification on the temperate coastal marine ecosystems.
Coral reefs are synonymous with the tropical coastal seas. When the ocean temperatures cool in the direction of the poles, corals yield to kelp as the main habitat-forming species. This shift from coral to kelp can be seen evidently on the 2000 km coastline of Japan, where modifications to these ecosystems are ongoing.