Overview

California’s kelp forests rank among the most productive ecosystems in the world. Their algae, invertebrates and fishes sustain numerous commercial and recreational fisheries of both economic and social importance. With funding from the NSF/NOAA CAMEO program, our group of collaborators at the USGS, PISCO, and NOAA are making spatial and temporal comparisons of the empirical structure and dynamics of central and southern Californian nearshore kelp forest communities to inform and compare the performance of multi-species approaches to understanding the complex dynamics of these systems. Our overarching goals are to develop tools to facilitate ecosystem-based decision making, and to forecast how marine reserves and the impending re-invasion of sea otters to southern Californian waters will affect the region’s valued fisheries.

The purpose of the Kelpforest Database is to serve as a repository for our knowledge of the identities, life-histories, and interactions between the species present in the nearshore kelp forest ecosystems of the eastern Pacific, focusing in particular on central and southern California. The information that it houses will aid in the interpretation of species’ spatial and temporal patterns, and will serve as the basis on which to construct and parameterize mathematical models of these species rich communities.

The database is designed to be literature-based; its format thereby differs from that of the typical ecological database in being citation-based, rather than species- or interaction-based. Each entered value (e.g., a species’ body size) is associated with an appropriate citation. The most notable consequence of this design is that multiple values (each from a different source citation) are permitted for the same entry field.

At present the “database” consists of three parts: (i) This informational website, (ii) the database-proper (a MySQL database housed at UCSC), and (iii) an online interface to the database built to permit multiple users to enter information into the database simultaneously.  At this point in time the online interface is designed only for manual data-entry. Our goal is to add batch-importing in the future.

Any parties wishing to contribute to the database, or make use of the information it houses, are more than welcome to do so!  Please contact us at kelpforest@ucsc.edu to find out how.