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Identifying key factors for transplantation success in the restoration of kelp (Ecklonia radiata) beds


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Graham, TDJ, Morris, RL, Strain, EMA ORCID: 0000-0003-2165-9544 and Swearer, SE 2021 , 'Identifying key factors for transplantation success in the restoration of kelp (Ecklonia radiata) beds' , Restoration Ecology , pp. 1-33 , doi: 10.1111/rec.13536.

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Kelp beds are a defining feature of temperate reefs worldwide, playing a fundamental role as ecosystem engineers and primary producers. Overgrazing by the native sea urchin Heliocidaris erythrogramma has driven a phase shift from kelp beds of Ecklonia radiata to barrens across much of Port Phillip Bay, Victoria. Here we present the results of a transplant experiment, which took juvenile E. radiata sporophytes from a source reef and attached them with silicon tubing to basalt tiles. Following an initial localized cull, we monitored the development and survival of individual E. radiata to investigate the drivers of loss during transplantation, including disturbance (control vs. procedural control), receiving environment (kelp canopy vs. no canopy), and translocation site (within vs. between reefs). We also investigated the role of holdfast reattachment and developmental stage on kelp survival. 69% of the kelp transplants survived over the 17 weeks, with no increased loss resulting from transplantation to a reef 41 km away. We observed high survival of transplants in the absence of ongoing urchin exclusion. Furthermore, the provision of a canopy is not necessary and may result in adverse impacts on survival and development of juvenile sporophyte transplants presumably through competition for light. Individuals at the collection location (controls) were unlikely to survive to maturity suggesting their removal for transplanting is likely to have minimal impact on the kelp population of the donor reef. The methods used could be feasibly upscaled for rehabilitating or restoring kelp beds both in Port Phillip Bay and elsewhere.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Graham, TDJ and Morris, RL and Strain, EMA and Swearer, SE
Keywords: restoration, kelp, transplant
Journal or Publication Title: Restoration Ecology
Publisher: Blackwell Publishing Inc
ISSN: 1061-2971
DOI / ID Number: 10.1111/rec.13536
Copyright Information:

© 2021 Society for Ecological Restoration. This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Graham, T.D.J., Morris, R.L., Strain, E.M.A. and Swearer, S.E. (2021), Identifying key factors for transplantation success in the restoration of kelp (Ecklonia radiata) beds. Restor Ecol e13536, which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Use of Self-Archived Versions. This article may not be enhanced, enriched or otherwise transformed into a derivative work, without express permission from Wiley or by statutory rights under applicable legislation. Copyright notices must not be removed, obscured or modified. The article must be linked to Wiley’s version of record on Wiley Online Library and any embedding, framing or otherwise making available the article or pages thereof by third parties from platforms, services and websites other than Wiley Online Library must be prohibited.

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