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Sophie Corrigan collecting data for her new paper on the habitat value of a sugar kelp farm in Cornwall

New paper on the habitat value of a sugar kelp farm in Cornwall, and the role of different farming schedules and harvesting techniques

Sophie Corrigan, SAF PhD student, has published a new paper on the habitat value of a sugar kelp farm in Cornwall to epibiont species (organisms that attach to the surface of the kelp).

Sophie has been working closely with a team from across the University of Exeter and the Marine Biological Association, in collaboration with a seaweed and mussel farm in Cornwall, to monitor the development and diversity of epibiont assemblages on cultivated sugar kelp (Saccharina latissima). Sophie then compared the effects of different harvesting techniques on assemblage structure.

Results show that increases in epibiont abundance and diversity were found on cultivated kelp over and beyond the growing season, reaching an incredible abundance of >6000 individuals per kelp plant with a taxonomic richness of ~9 phyla per kelp in late summer. Assemblages were dominated by crustaceans (mainly amphipods), molluscs (principally bivalves) and bryozoans, which provide important ecological roles, despite reducing crop quality.

Partial harvesting techniques maintained, or increased, epibiont abundance and diversity beyond the farming season, enabling the resulting habitat provisioning and other ecosystem services to be retained throughout the year. However, these kelp plants were significantly fouled and would not be commercially viable in most markets.

This paper provides important information for quantifying the ecological benefits of different kelp farming schedules and harvesting techniques, helping to inform on sustainable ecosystem approaches to aquaculture.

Sophie’s paper belongs to the Special Issue in the journal Life: Algae - a Step Forward in the Sustainability of Resources. View the graphical abstract here or access the full paper below.

Sophie Corrigan, A. Ross Brown, Charles R. Tyler, Catherine Wilding, Carly Daniels, Ian G. C. Ashton, Dan A. Smale (2023). Development and Diversity of Epibiont Assemblages on Cultivated Sugar Kelp (Saccharina latissima) in Relation to Farming Schedules and Harvesting Techniques.

Life 13(1), 209;

Date: 16 January 2023