South African kelp moving eastwards: the discovery of Ecklonia maxima (Osbeck) Papenfuss at De Hoop Nature Reserve on the south coast of South Africa
AbstractHistorical and recent evidence is documented to demonstrate that the eastern limit of the major kelp-bed forming seaweed Ecklonia maxima has moved c. 73 km eastward along the south coast of South Africa since 2006, after remaining unchanged for almost 70 years. A significant population has established at Koppie Alleen, De Hoop Nature Reserve, which has been monitored from 2008 to 2011. It is hypothesised that the eastward spread is limited by aspects of the inshore water temperature regime, and recent evidence suggests that gradual cooling along this coast may have caused the change in distribution. It seems likely that if a cooling trend continues along the South African south coast, kelp beds and their associated species will move farther eastward in future decades, affecting the ecology and livelihoods along this coast.
Keywords: biogeography, climate change, Laminariales, temperature
African Journal of Marine Science 2012, 34(1): 147–151