A mathematical model for kelp growth

A deterministic model for growth of species of giant kelp, Macrocystis, of the southern California coast was developed and analyzed using FORTRAN. Factors modifying only light and temperature are required to simulate empirically derived growth curves. The model was used to determine optimum time of the year for new growth which was found to be early June, and optimum time of the year for regeneration of harvested canopy, found to be early July. Critical values for turbidity which will prevent new growth for any given kelp bed depth were determined. At twenty meters depth, reduction of transmitted light to 82% per meter caused by introduction of particles, e.g. sewage effluent, into coastal waters reduces growth time by only 20%, but when transmitted light is below 76% per meter growth time is zero. Possibilities for further development of the model by the quantification of additional variables are discussed.

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