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Master of Environmental Data Science

Developing a Geospatial Model for Kelp Forest Cultivation and Restoration

Group Members: Erika Egg, Jessica French, Javier PatrĂ³n, Elke Windschitl

Faculty Advisors: Samantha Stevenson

Client: Ocean Rainforest, Inc. and UCSB Interdepartmental Graduate Program in Marine Science




Kelp forests are some of the most productive and biodiverse marine ecosystems in the world but have experienced steep declines in health and abundance in the past decade. These declines have increased the urgency to develop innovative strategies and tools for kelp forest management and restoration. This project aims to address this need by creating a synthesized dataset and an interactive map linking trends in water quality, oceanographic conditions, and nutrient biogeochemistry to kelp forest health. Ocean Rainforest, a local Santa Barbara seaweed aquaculture farm, is interested in the development of such a tool to better understand the environmental conditions surrounding the growth of kelp for their business. Additionally, this tool will help to identify other areas in the Santa Barbara Channel (SBC) that are suitable for restoration or citing of new farms. The final tool will identify factors essential for healthy kelp forests around the SBC, and generate visualizations that highlight the areas with the most potential for seaweed aquaculture and restoration. 

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