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Nearshore Habitat Mapping

Long-term trends and drivers in canopy-forming kelp forests and seagrass meadows
Luba Reshitnyk
Hakai Science
Keith Holmes
Hakai Science

Question: How have canopy forming kelps and seagrass meadows changed through time and what are the primary drivers of this change?

Objective: Document long-term trends in canopy-forming kelp forest and seagrass meadows with LANDSAT and World View remote sensing and assess the climatic and ecological drivers of change. Use underwater videography, multibeam bathymetry and acoustic data to identify subsurface kelp and seagrass habitats and discern rocky reef from soft sediment areas.

Rationale: Temporal and spatial macrophyte dynamics are likely affected by fluctuations in climate (e.g. temperature, significant wave height and nutrient availability), the cascading effects of sea otter recovery, and human influences including marine harvests. Determining the relative importance of these drivers will allow us to make better predictions about how macrophyte species will change under future scenarios of predator recovery and varying climatic conditions. This information will be used to map the spatial dynamics of blue carbon along BC’s Central Coast.

Links: This large-scale habitat mapping will compliment the Nearshore Ecology research element, and the subtidal monitoring of kelp forest, eelgrass meadows and soft sediment systems. It will also inform the Benthic Ecology research element in the Microbes to Macrophytes program, and provide information for foraging and rafting habitats of sea otters in the Otter Coast research element.