Environment

Why Are Sea Urchins So Destructive to Kelp Forests?

California researchers are closing in on the missing puzzle piece to a persistent ecological problem.

By Gabe AllenAug 23, 2022 2:00 PM
Urchin barren
(Credit: Shaun Lee/Wikimedia Commons)

Newsletter

Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news
 

From the coast of Southern Africa to Southern Alaska, sea urchins and kelp coexist peacefully — until they don’t. In recent decades, more and more kelp forests have been razed by the hungry urchins. In these places, “urchin barrens” have replaced once lush and diverse ecosystems. 

“At its worst, it’s urchins as far as the eye can see. They’re literally stacked on top of each other vying for space,” says Mae Rennik, a Ph.D. candidate in ecology and evolutionary marine biology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. “These shifts can happen very quickly.”  

0 free articles left
Want More? Get unlimited access for as low as $1.99/month

Already a subscriber?

Register or Log In

0 free articlesSubscribe
Discover Magazine Logo
Want more?

Keep reading for as low as $1.99!

Subscribe

Already a subscriber?

Register or Log In

Stay Curious

Sign up for our weekly newsletter and unlock one more article for free.

 

View our Privacy Policy


Want more?
Keep reading for as low as $1.99!


Log In or Register

Already a subscriber?
Find my Subscription

More From Discover
Recommendations From Our Store
Shop Now
Stay Curious
Join
Our List

Sign up for our weekly science updates.

 
Subscribe
To The Magazine

Save up to 70% off the cover price when you subscribe to Discover magazine.

Copyright © 2022 Kalmbach Media Co.