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Byrnes JE, Johnson LE, Connell SD, Shears NT, McMillan SM, Irving A, Buschmann AH, Graham MH, Kinlan BP.2013. The sea urchin – the ultimate herbivore and biogeographic variability in its ability to deforest kelp ecosystems. PeerJ PrePrints1:e174v1https://doi.org/10.7287/peerj.preprints.174v1
Barren rocky seafloor landscapes, denuded of almost all life by ravenous sea urchins, liberated from their predators, stands as one of the iconic images of trophic cascades in Ecology. While this paradigm has been cited in nearly every temperate rocky reef ecosystem across the globe, there is widespread disagreement as to its generality. Given their biology, sea urchins are clearly one of the ocean’s strongest herbivores in many systems, but where will their impact be strongest? Here we perform a global meta-analysis of sea urchin-kelp relationships in the field. We find that sea urchins appear to be able to control kelp abundances in any system where they can achieve high densities. Furthermore, their ability to create large-scale long-lasting barrens appears to be limited to biogeographic regions where they can achieve high consumptive potential. Based on the literature, we outline a conceptual model that examines when and where sea urchins should be able to have a strong regulating impact on kelp forest ecosystems. We suggest that many elements of global change may shift the balance of forces regulating sea urchin consumptive potential in these ecosystems. Given their ability to have strong impacts on temperate rocky reefs, these drivers need to be considered in concert with their effect on sea urchins when attempting to predict future change to marine ecosystems.
Supporting Online Materials Table 1
Data used for the kelp-urchin abundance meta-analysis. Full references are included in the Supplementary References. Data from the Channel Islands National Park Service Kelp Forest Monitoring Project are labeled KFM. Data from the Partnership for Interdisciplinary Study of Coastal Oceans are labeled PISCO.
One additional comment: many of the references are in your Online Support Information. Since electronic publication is not subject to size limits, wouldn't it be better to provide those refs. in the proper paper, so that those citations me be properly gathered to their authors' credit? ISI, at least, does not count citations in supporting info or in "Notes added in Proof"