This article is a short introduction to the kelp forests. It is is one of the sub-categories within the section dealing with biodiversity of marine habitats and ecosystems and is common on the Continental Shelf.
The kelp bed is one of the most productive and dynamic marine ecosystems on the continental shelf. It occurs worldwide in temperate and polar coastal oceans. Brown macroalgae of the order Laminariales forms the forests. The kelp forests have some specific requirements such as a hard, rocky bottom; cold water and a continuous supply of nutrients to support the high level of photosynthetic activity. They have an appearance to the maximum depth of 30 m, but then the water must be very clear. Large canopies can be formed and provide smaller algal species of shadow. It is a unique habitat for organisms and is a source for understanding many ecological processes. Large numbers of organisms use the kelp as food and/or shelter. The kelps weaken the currents and most of the storms. They are constantly growing and eroding and cause in this way a continuous stream of detritus. This detritus plays and important role in the food web of the kelps. The food web further consist of organisms like sea lions, whales, sea otters, urchins, sponges,… It is frequently considered to be an ecosystem engineer.
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