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Kelp Forests

FAQ's

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Frequently Asked Questions...
 
                                       

Q. Where do these ecosystems occur?
   A. Kelp Forests occur in cold, nutrient-rich water.They are found in shallow open coastal waters. Larger forests can be found as far as the Artic and Antartic Circles because of the need for cold (20 Degrees C) water. Although because of Kelp's dependance on light for photosynthesis, Kelp Forests are rarely deeper than 15-40m. Kelp doesn't inhabit tropical water, they are found only in cold waters in many parts of the world. However, the tallest, best-developed kelp forests are in waters 20-210 ft (6-70 m) deep over rocky bottoms off the coast of California.
 
Q. What are the common aboiotic (non-living) factors?
       A. 1)The first important abiotic factor is the available attatchment sites (rocks for kelp to attatch onto). Shallow rocky areas are the best place for kelp to grow because kelp need a place to attatch their holdfast (anchor). The quality of a kelp's attatchment place depends on the type of rocks. Hard, durable rocks provide the best attatchment sites for kelp.
           2)The second abiotic factor relates to temperature. Kelp forests grow best where the temperature remains below 70 degrees F. Cold water has more nutrients which the kelp forests need to survive.
           3) The third abiotic factor involves slainity-the amount of salt in the water. Kelp needs salty water to survive. Ocean water has a salinity of around 35 salt parts per thousand parts of water. The ocean's salinity remains stable and the kelp plant doesn't have to survive major salinity changes.
          4) The fourth abiotic factor has to do with the clarity of water. Kelp use photosynthesis to survive. Even when it is very sunny out there isn't always enough light for the parts of the plant under the water. Kelp forests form a canopy that blocks about 90 percent of the sunlight so it is vital that muddy, cloudy, or unclear water doesn't block the rest of the light.  Clear water ensures that the maximum amount of light will reach the lower parts of the kelp plant--which can grow from bottoms as deep as 100 feet. This light bluish tint is a sure sign that light is penetrating deep into the water.
       5) The fifth abiotic factor has to do with nutrients. Kelp forests need a constant supply of fresh nutrient-rich water to survive. Rapidly growing kelp plants in calm water will quickly use up the nutrients in the water around them.During those periods, giant kelp plant growth slows down or stops completely.
      6) The last abiotic factor concerns waves. Waves are generally beneficial because they move warm water and cold water around. However large, forceful waves can destroy kelp forests by detaching their holdfasts.
 
Q. When does kelp become a Kelp Forest?
     A. When large species of kelp become extremely abundant.

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