Catastrophic Storms, El Niño, and Patch Stability in a Southern California Kelp Community

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Science  20 Apr 1984:
Vol. 224, Issue 4646, pp. 283-285
DOI: 10.1126/science.224.4646.283


Strong winter storms in southern California destroyed most of the canopy ofthe giant kelp Macrocystis pyrifera but not the patches of understory kelps in the Point Loma kelp forest near San Diego. Subsequent massive recruitment of Macrocystis juveniles and adults that survived the storms had low survival in the summer during the California El Niño of 1983. The combined disturbance may have long-lasting structural consequences for this community because, once established, the understory patches can resist invasion by Macrocystis.