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Public Utilities

San Diego Coastal Kelp Forest Ecosystem Monitoring



Photo provided by P.E. Parnell

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Ed Parnell, Ph.D. Associate Research Oceanographer

Paul K. Dayton, Ph.D. Professor/Research Biologist

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Ami Latker Marine Biologist III, Project Manager

Ryan Kempster, Ph.D. Ocean Monitoring Program Manager

Researchers at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO) have partnered with the City of San Diego Ocean Monitoring Program to conduct regular surveys of the kelp forests off San Diego County. These surveys represent a continuation of ecological studies in the Point Loma and La Jolla kelp forests at some of the same sites established as part of earlier studies in the 1970s and 1980s. These two kelp forests are the largest contiguous kelp forests off the western United States coast and are historically one of the most studied kelp forest systems in the world. Additional study sites have been established more recently in both Point Loma and La Jolla, and in kelp forests off northern San Diego County. The main components of the current kelp forest monitoring program include estimation of (1) algal density, growth, reproductive condition and recruitment, (2) invertebrate densities, (3) sea urchin demography (size distributions to monitor for episodic recruitment), and (4) ocean bottom temperature (which is a proxy of ocean nutrient status).