Reviewing Research on Kelp Forests in Changing Oceans

Reviewing Research on Kelp Forests in Changing Oceans

This guest blog highlights the experience of a Santa Rosa Junior College - Bodega Marine Laboratory Internship Program participant. The SRJC-BML Internship program is committed to creating an inclusive space for the development of new scientists and leaders and to provide interns with experience conducting research essential to developing careers in the sciences. 
Learn more, apply, or donate on the program website.

This summer, my mentor Tallulah Winquist and I did a review of the state of the science pertaining to kelp forests and their ameliorating effects on ocean acidification. I read a bunch of papers, took notes about them, and discussed them in meetings with my mentor. We organized the information we found to answer two questions: “What factors alter kelp forests’ ameliorating effects?” and “What factors help make kelp forests more resilient to climate change?”

I am still uncertain what field of biology I want to specialize in. I’ve been fascinated by marine biology since I was a child, watching ocean documentaries and looking through this one marine biology book my mom had all the time. I thought this internship would be the perfect opportunity to get to know more about the field firsthand. Even though my mentor and I weren’t able to do all that we hoped with her fieldwork and data analysis, I wasn’t disappointed. I still learned so much from what we did with our review of the science surrounding kelp forests and their ameliorating effects on climate change.

More generally, aside from all that I learned about kelp forests, this experience taught me a lot about various methods of data collection and analysis in marine science, especially those to do with carbon chemistry, photosynthesis, and stable isotope analysis. I’m much more confident in my ability to read and understand complex research topics. I was also introduced to R and learned how to do some basic coding and graphing on my own.

I really appreciate all of the guidance and insight provided to me by my mentor and all of the speakers at the professional development meetings. Everyone was so supportive! Tallulah always made and asked such thoughtful comments and questions to help get me thinking about things from different scientific perspectives as opposed to just absorbing the information. And it was great to hear from everyone about their college and career experiences. I feel like I have a much better idea about what it means for me to be entering the field of biology, and what my options are in the future as far as grad school and research. I can’t wait to try to get involved in more research at my next college when I transfer this fall!

About the Author:

Seraiah is a general biology major, transferring to UC Santa Cruz from SRJC in the fall. This summer she worked with her mentor Tallulah Winquist.

Some interesting figures Seraiah encountered during her literature review:


A diagram that shows kelp cover decreasing between 2008 and 2016 in the following locations: Van Damme, Point Arena Cove, Timber Cove, Fort Ross
Rogers-Bennett, L. and Catton, C.A. 2019. Marine heat wave and multiple stressors tip bull kelp forest to sea urchin barrens. Scientific Reports 9: 15050.

A diagram that shows the pH, oxygen levels, and temperature of kelp forests over the course of several months
Hirsh, H.K., Nickols, K.J., Takeshita, Y., Traiger, S.B., Mucciarone, D.A., Monismith, S., and Dunbar, R. B. 2020. Drivers of biogeochemical variability in a central California kelp forest: Implications for local amelioration of ocean acidification. Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans 125: e2020JC016320

A chart that shows the relationship between temperature and photosynthetic response in macrocystis blades
Fernández, P.A., Gaitán-Espitia, J.D., Leal, P.P., Schmid, M., Revill, A.T., and Hurd, C.L. 2020. Nitrogen sufficiency enhances thermal tolerance in habitat-forming kelp: implications for acclimation under thermal stress. Scientific Reports 10: 3186.

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