Role of kelp export in shaping adjacent benthic ecosystems: steps for international collaboration

Oslo, 19-20 September 2017

The main goal of the KELCO workshop was to bring together national and international experts with different scientific backgrounds on kelp and benthic ecology to share data and information and identify and strengthen synergies amongst ongoing research projects. The KELCO workshop was co-funded by NFR-MARINFORSK and the Norwegian Blue Forest Network (Norway) and from the British Ecological Society-Aquatic group and MERP programme (UK). The workshop was held at the Science Park in Oslo, Norway, in September 2017.

The workshop was set up to facilitate discussions on kelp export and impact, allowing for comparisons of ecosystems with different drivers at a large geographic scale. Strategically, the workshop provided an excellent framework for knowledge sharing amongst leading wrld scientists in kelp research, strengthening cooperation and promoting future research collaborations. The workshop was organized over two days and benefited from the participation of 20 leading scientists on kelp research from 7 countries: 11 from Norway, 3 from UK, 1 from Ireland, 1 from Denmark, 1 from USA, 2 from Canada and 1 form Australia.


Setting the scene: what do we know?

The first morning of the workshop was dedicated to presentations that helped set the scene of current knowledge and research in kelp drift production and fate in different geographic regions:

  • Main results to date from the KELPEX project – Karen Filbee-Dexter (NIVA, NO)
  • Production, transport and fate of kelp detritus in Nova Scotia – Bob Scheibling (Dalhousie Uni., CA)
  • Recent and ongoing kelp research in UK and Ireland – Michael Burrows (SAMS, UK), Dan Smale (MBA, UK), Pippa Moore (Aberystwyth Uni., UK), Nessa O’Connor (Uni. Dublin, Ireland)
  • Kelp research in Alaska – Ken Dunton (Uni. Texas, USA)
  • The Norwegian Blue Forest Network – Hege Gundersen (NIVA)

Discussion sessions: what are the gaps?

The first morning of presentations was followed by two half days of discussions on four major topics:

  • Discussion 1: Generation of kelp debris erosion and mechanisms of detritus production
  • Discussion 2: Quantifying kelp debris transport
  • Discussion 3: Quantifying kelp detritus uptake by benthic community and sequestration
  • Discussion 4: Impacts of regime shifts on drift supply and ecosystem response

Next steps: how can we address key knowledge gaps?

The workshop ended with a general discussion on next steps. This session started by identifying 3-5 major knowledge gaps that can be addressed with current ongoing research/methods. The discussions included information on relevant calls for proposals, potential future workshops, student exchanges and discussions on 2 potential publications as a joint effort from the workshop participants.