Effect of local and regional oceanographic processes on the recovery of macroalgal communities post-El Niño in the rocky intertidal along the Oregon coast

Abstract : Although the links between climate change and climatic patterns such as ENSO (El Niño- Southern Oscillation) remain unclear, the impacts of ENSO events on coastal environments in the short- term likely mimic those of climate change in the long-term. Thus, ENSO can serve as a proxy for possible long-term ecological responses to an increasingly variable climate. ENSO events can have dramatic effects on species interactions and the structuring of communities. However, the impact of El Niño could be modulated by local and regional processes (i.e., nutrient inputs from upwelling and coastal topography). The Oregon rocky intertidal is exposed to a gradient of upwelling from weaker and intermediate (northern Oregon) to stronger and more persistent (southern Oregon) and the coastal topography varies from site to site. The results showed that local and regional environmental processes do modulate the strength of El Niño and its effects on the recovery of kelp communities along the Oregon coast. Intertidal kelp abundance and size were reduced by the 2015-16 El Niño event (more so in the southern Oregon) and they were recovered two years after the event with a faster recovery rate in the southern Oregon. The results hint at the possibility of persistent large-scale climatic processes (i.e., warming) shifting the beneficial relationship between upwelling and kelp communities to a harmful one. More research is needed on larger spatial and temporal scales to better understand and anticipate future climate change ramifications on the intertidal kelp communities.
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Master Thesis
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Camille Ollier. Effect of local and regional oceanographic processes on the recovery of macroalgal communities post-El Niño in the rocky intertidal along the Oregon coast. Life Sciences [q-bio]. 2018. ⟨dumas-01971662⟩

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