Seasonal Impacts on the Breakage of Nereocystis Leutkeana: A Break in Time
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Nereocystis luetkeana is an ecologically important species in the marine environment and when it washes up as drift it becomes ecologically important to the terrestrial environment, providing a crucial link between the two ecosystems. The first appearance of N. luetkeana has been observed to be during early spring and then they reach their full height in early summer and soon after become reproductive. During this time, their chances of entanglement increase and so do their chances of detachment. Their blades also contain a large amount of mass, and when the current causes those blades to go in one direction, it causes tension in the stipe which in turn increases the risk of detachment. This study focuses on quantifying the location of bull kelp failure (stipe, holdfast, or substrate) throughout spring and seeing when the most breakage was observed in the San Juan Archipelago. Significant patterns in the data were variable; two locations found to have statistical significance in the average stipe length between early and late spring showed opposite trends compared to each other. The variation in data trends, and the observed variation in sizes and stages in the life cycle suggests that the life cycle of N. luetkeana does not follow a certain seasonal schedule.