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Researchers discover forests of endangered tropical kelp
Date:9/26/2007

n's success has three major implications. First, the World Conservation Union, which recently added Eisenia galapagensis to its global database of threatened species, may reconsider that action. Second, the model may find other marine life presumed endangered or rare but actually hidden beneath the ocean's surface. The model does this by pinpointing unexpected places to search. In this case, the model correctly predicted that deep waters in the tropics could harbor kelp forests more commonly associated with temperate regions such as central California. The model identified nearly 10,000 square miles of similar unexpected cold spots in deep tropical waters worldwide.

The third implication of the research is that marine biodiversity may be more tolerant of climate change than presumed. Graham compares his team's kelp forests to the underwater hydrothermal vents discovered off South Africa in 1977. Scientists were surprised to find thriving ecosystems near those vents in water previously considered too deep and dark to harbor complex communities. Graham theorizes the kelp forests his team discovered may reveal a similar wealth of plant and animal life. So while global warming may heat coral reefs and alter life there, marine communities may continue to thrive in kelp forests deep beneath the surface, where cooler nutrient-rich waters are less affected by surface warming.


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Contact: Gail Gallessich
gail.g@ia.ucsb.e.du
805-893-7220
University of California - Santa Barbara
Source:Eurekalert

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