NIVA's research on kelp includes ecology, distribution, biodiversity, ecosystem functioning, regime shifts and much more.
Kelp forests are one of the most emblematic ecosystems in the world, forming complex systems that provide a major source of primary production and support rich and diverse communities. However, dramatic changes have occurred in Norwegian kelp forests in the last 4 decades, where about 2000 km2 have become barren under the overgrazing pressure of sea urchins. In the 1990s, a recovery of barren grounds started in mid-Norway and is moving northwards, driven by a decrease in grazing sea urchins.
Up to 80% of the kelp production is exported to adjacent ecosystems, but the role played by kelp detritus in fuelling adjacent benthic communities is poorly understood. Quantifying this trophic relationship between kelp forests and benthic ecosystems is timely in northern Norway, where kelp forests both play a major ecological role and are experiencing major regime shifts.