Assessing the feasibility of restoring giant kelp forests in Tasmania - Final Report

This report examines whether warm water tolerant giant kelp (Macrocystis pyrifera) exists among remnant Tasmanian giant kelp habitat, and if so, assesses their use in restoration trials. Giant kelp forests were previously common in Tasmanian waters, but ~95% declines of giant kelp cover over recent decades led to Federal listing as an endangered community. This decline is related to changes in regional oceanography and ocean warming, and while restoration is one possible conservation approach, any intervention must consider these ongoing threats. Using spores from remnant giant kelp we established a collection of 48 unique kelp cultures or ‘family-lines’. Thermal tolerance experiments found ~10% of the family-lines showed significant warm water tolerance. These ‘super kelp’ were then used in restoration trials, with several hundred juvenile giant kelp now established at two field sites. This project has progressed selective breeding of kelp and innovative restoration interventions.

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