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A species distribution model of the giant kelp Macrocystis pyrifera: worldwide changes and a focus on the Southeast Pacific
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  • Daniel Gonzalez-Aragon,
  • Marcelo Rivadeneira,
  • Carlos Lara,
  • Felipe Torres,
  • Julio Vasquez,
  • Bernardo Broitman
Daniel Gonzalez-Aragon
Universidad Catolica de la Santisima Concepcion - Campus San Andres

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Marcelo Rivadeneira
Centro de Estudios Avanzados en Zonas Áridas
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Carlos Lara
Universidad Católica de la Santísima Concepción - Campus San Andrés
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Felipe Torres
Universidad Catolica de la Santisima Concepcion - Campus San Andres
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Julio Vasquez
Departamento de Biología Marina Facultad de Ciencias del Mar Universidad Católica del Norte
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Bernardo Broitman
Universidad Adolfo Ibanez Campus Vina del Mar
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Aim: Worldwide climate-driven shifts in the distribution of species is of special concern when it involves habitat-forming species. In the coastal environment, large Laminarian algae – kelps – form key coastal ecosystems that support complex and diverse food webs. Among kelps, Macrocystis pyrifera is the most widely distributed habitat-forming species and provides essential ecosystem services. This study aimed to establish the main drivers of future distributional changes on a global scale and use them to predict both future habitat suitability. Location: Global Methods: Using species distribution models (SDM), we examined the changes in global distribution of M. pyrifera under different emission scenarios with a focus on the Southeastern Pacific shores. To constrain the drivers of our simulations to the most important factors controlling kelp forest distribution across spatial scales, we explored a suite of environmental variables and validated the predictions derived from the SDMs. Results: Minimum sea surface temperature was the single most important variable explaining the global distribution of suitable habitat for M. pyrifera. Under different climate change scenarios, we always observed a decrease of suitable habitat at low latitudes, while an increase was detected in other regions, mostly at high latitudes. Along the Southeast Pacific, we observed an upper range contraction of -17.08°S of latitude for 2100 under the RCP8.5 scenario, implying a loss of habitat suitability throughout the coast of Peru and poleward to -27.83°S in Chile. Along the area of Northern Chile where a complete habitat loss is predicted by our model, natural stands are under heavy exploitation. Main conclusions: The loss of habitat suitability will take place worldwide: significant impacts on marine biodiversity and ecosystem functioning are likely. Furthermore, changes in habitat suitability are a harbinger of massive impacts in the socio-ecological systems of the Southeastern Pacific.
27 Sep 2023Submitted to Ecology and Evolution
29 Sep 2023Assigned to Editor
29 Sep 2023Submission Checks Completed
03 Oct 2023Reviewer(s) Assigned
31 Oct 2023Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
06 Nov 2023Editorial Decision: Revise Minor