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 Future Potential Impact of Rapid Climate Change in the Region

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Thus, it is probable that southern NB will also experience a significant increase

in F. vesiculosus during the next half century. Although it is only an anecdotal

observation, a shift in the fucoid composition from Ascophyllum to F. vesiculosus

has also been observed in Ireland and it has been associated with a shift in prevailing wind patterns.

Invasive species are another potential problem associated with climate

change and the Canadian Maritimes certainly will be affected to some degree.

Grateloupia turuturu, a red seaweed native to Japan and Korea, has invaded the

coasts of New England (Mathieson et al., 2008). The temperature tolerance of this

species is 4–28°C (Simon et al., 1999, 2001) and a low SST has probably precluded

its further northern invasion into Canadian waters. However, an increase in SST

of 2° may well create a suitable habitat for such opportunistic species to develop

along the coastline of the Maritime Provinces.

Another invasive species, Codium fragile, has already become established in

the shallow subtidal and intertidal pools in areas 3 and 4 since the mid-1990s

(Chapman et al., 2002), but so far it has been unable to colonize the waters of the

Bay of Fundy due to the low summer SSTs. However, an increase in the SSTs may

allow this species to survive in shallow warmer embayments of the Fundy region

(Fig. 8 Photo. Raul Ugarte).

Figure 8. Codium fragile is commonly found in the subtidal zone and tide pools. We have also observed

it as an epiphyte on A. nodosum in southwestern NS.



Another large change predicted by the AOGCMs models for the region by

2060 is a significant reduction of the ice season in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence

during the winter (Chmura et al., 2005), a trend that we are clearly observing

today (Ugarte et al., 2008). This trend will be even more dramatic in the shallow

bays of NS, which will probably remain ice free during winter. Although this situation seems favorable for Ascophyllum, the ice also serves as a thermal insulation

against sudden drops in air temperature (Scrosati and Eckersley, 2007) and as a

protective barrier from winter storms. According to Environment Canada, Nova

Scotia (along with Newfoundland and Labrador) has the highest storm frequency

during the winter and early spring of any region in Canada owing to its proximity

to the Gulf Stream. These storms can generate wave heights greater than 14 m,

and storm surges in excess of 1 m. The frequency and intensity of storms have

increased in the last decade in the Maritimes and this trend is expected to continue. Under this scenario, it is possible that a large percentage of rockweed biomass along the southern and eastern shores (areas 3 to 5) of NS may be lost to

storm damage during the winter each year, with those in the most exposed area

being unable to recoup the lost biomass during the summer months.

Information continues to be collected on the rockweed biomass and their

associated flora in the Canadian Maritimes as part of the ASL harvesting responsibilities and the Company’s environmental stewardship role. Such data are essential for understanding in detail the scale of changes occurring in this region, and

are required when long-term retrospective analyses are carried out in the future.

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Biodata of Klaas Pauly and Olivier De Clerck, authors of “GIS-Based

Environmental Analysis, Remote Sensing, and Niche Modeling of Seaweed


Dr. Klaas Pauly is currently a Teaching Assistant at the Phycology Research Group,

Biology Department in Ghent University, Belgium. He graduated there in 2004,

presenting his dissertation on Biogeography and seasonality of macroalgal communities in the Gulf of Oman. As a Ph.D. student, he continued his research in the

same group on ecology and biogeography of benthic macroalgae of the Arabian

Sea and Gulf of Oman using geographical techniques including remote sensing

and ecological niche modeling. His most recent work is on siphonous green algal

phylogeography and the evolution of niches using the latter technique, in collaboration with Dr. Heroen Verbruggen.

E-mail: klaas.pauly@ugent.be

Professor Dr. Olivier De Clerck was recently appointed Director of the Phycology

Research Group at the Biology Department, Ghent University, Belgium. After

finishing his Ph.D. there in 1999, a revision of the brown algal genus Dictyota

in the Indian Ocean, he spent 1 year at the University of Cape Town as a Smuts

Memorial Post Doctoral Fellow. From 2001 to 2008, he worked in Ghent as a

Fund for Scientific Research – Flanders (FWO, Belgium) post-doc fellow at the

Phycology Research Group, coordinating various projects involving molecular

systematics of marine red algae and sexual evolution in brown algae.

E-mail: olivier.declerck@ugent.be

Klaas Pauly

Olivier De Clerck


A. Israel et al. (eds.), Seaweeds and their Role in Globally Changing Environments,

Cellular Origin, Life in Extreme Habitats and Astrobiology 15, 93–114

DOI 10.1007/978-90-481-8569-6_6, © Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010




Phycology Research Group, Biology Department, Ghent University,

9000, Ghent, Belgium

1. GIS and Remote Sensing in a Nori Wrap


In the face of global change, spatially explicit studies or meta-analyses of published

species data are much needed to understand the impact of the changing environment

on living organisms, for instance by modeling and mapping species’ distributional

shifts. A Nature Editorial (2008) recently discussed the need for spatially explicit

biological data, stating that the absence or inaccuracy of geographical coordinates

associated with every single sample prohibits, or at least jeopardizes, such studies

in any research field. In this chapter, we show how geographic techniques such as

remote sensing and applications based on geographic information systems (GIS)

are the key to document changes in marine benthic macroalgal communities.

Our aim is to introduce the evolution and basic principles of GIS and

remote sensing to the phycological community and demonstrate their application

in studies of marine macroalgae. Next, we review current geographical methods

and techniques showing specific advantages and difficulties in spatial seaweed

analyses. We conclude by demonstrating a remarkable lack of spatial data in seaweed studies to date and hence suggesting research priorities and new applications to gain more insight into global change-related seaweed issues.


The need to share spatial information in a visual framework resulted in the creation

of maps as early as many thousands of years ago. For instance, an approximately

6,200-year-old fresco map covering the city and a nearby erupting volcano was

found in Çatal Hưk, Anatolia (Turkey). Dating back even further, the animals,

dots, and lines on the Lascaux cave walls (France) are thought to represent animal

migration routes and star groups, some 15,000 years ago. Throughout written




history, there has been a steady increase in both demand for and quality (i.e., the

extent and amount of detail) of maps, concurrent with the ability to travel and

observe one’s position on earth. Like many aspects in written and graphic history,

however, a revolutionary expansion took place with the introduction of (personal)

computers. This new technology allowed to store maps (or any graphics) and additional information on certain map features in a digital format using an associated

relational database (attribute information). It is important to note that the creation of

GIS is not a goal in itself; instead, GIS are tools that facilitate spatial data management and analysis. For instance, a Nori farmer may wonder how to quantify

the influence of water quality and boat traffic on the yields (the defined goals),

and use GIS as tools to create and store maps and (remotely sensed) images, and

perform spatial analyses to achieve these goals (Fig. 1).

At least 30,0001 publications dating back to 1972 involve GIS (Amsterdam

et al., 1972), according to ISI Web of Knowledge.2 However, 12 years went by

Figure 1. Schematic overview of GIS data file types and remote sensing of a Nori farm in Tokyo Bay,


This number is based on the search term “geographic information system.” The search term ‘GIS’

yielded 32706 records, but an unknown number of these, including the records prior to 1972, concern

other meanings of the same acronym.


All online database counts and records mentioned throughout this chapter, including ISI Web of

Knowledge, OBIS, and Algaebase records, refer to the status on 1 July 2008.


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