Undergraduate Honors Thesis


Forecasting Declining Northern California Bull Kelp (Nereocystis luetkeana) Forest Habitat in a Warming World Public Deposited


    Bull kelp (Nereocystis luetkeana) forest habitat is beginning to wane in Northern California because of the increased stressors wrought by climate change. The loss of bull kelp potential habitat implies negative consequences for human and ecological communities through the loss of its provided ecosystem services and habitat for a diverse, biologically active community. Like other biological organisms, bull kelp needs specific conditions to grow and thrive. Sea surface temperature, sea surface salinity, and depth are all important conditions in bull kelp survival. These conditions are being increasingly affected as climate change impacts the world’s oceans. The current study aims to model how changes in these conditions brought by climate change impact the potential habitat for bull kelp in Northern California. It’s hypothesized that bull kelp forest potential habitat will become smaller, and it will likely move north with changes in all conditions. It was found that bull kelp potential habitat is likely to shift northward and shrink inland under the SSP2-4.5 “middle of the road” climate scenario, especially as a result of sea surface temperature increases into the future, and not so much as an impact of sea surface salinity or depth increases from sea level rise (SLR). Future research should consider more conditions, such as wave strength and substrate availability, and how changes in such by climate change can impact potential bull kelp habitat.

Date Awarded
  • 2023-10-24
Academic Affiliation
Committee Member
Granting Institution
Last Modified
  • 2023-11-07
  • Central Coast
  • Bay Area
Resource Type
Rights Statement


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