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Co-chairs: Karen Filbee-Dexter (Université Laval)

Christina Bonsell (University of Texas at Austin)


Rapid reductions in sea ice and warming waters are driving strong changes in the coastal zone of the Arctic. Less sea ice cover will increase the light reaching the seafloor and is predicted to lead to the northward expansion of kelp forests and other vegetative habitats. At the same time, turbidity and reduced salinity from glacial melt and thawing permafrost may negatively affect marine plants. These coastal habitats support valuable ecosystem functions, and their expansion could generate productive new ecosystems and economic opportunities in some regions. Yet research suggests that they are also fragile, and may be slow to recover following disturbance and vulnerable to coastal development. In many regions the current status and the consequences of future changes are relatively unknown. In this session, we encourage contributions on all marine plant habitats in the Arctic, including aspects such as function, distribution, genetics, social-ecological value, threats, and any insight on future changes from local to pan-Arctic scales.