More wind, bigger waves, changing marine ecosystems

Two recent papers find that ocean winds and waves are increasing and that such an increase in storminess would have big effects on kelp forest food webs. Intrigued? Then scoot over to SkepticalScience to read the whole post I wrote on it here.

From one of the two studies (Byrnes et al 2011): If large storms remain at their current annual frequency (roughly one major kelp-removing storm every 3.5 years), periodic storms help maintain the complexity of kelp forest food webs. However, if large storms increase in annual frequency and begin to occur year after year, kelp forest food webs become less diverse and complex as species go locally extinct. The loss of complexity occurs primarily due to decreases in the diversity and complexity of higher trophic levels. Our findings demonstrate that shifts in climate-driven disturbances that affect foundation species are likely to have impacts that cascade through entire ecosystems.

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