Project Overview

Ecosystem Services

Ecosystem Services are benefits humans obtain from a healthy ecosystem (TEEB 2013). These services can be broken down into four different types: Provisioning, Regulating, Cultural, and Supporting.

Image (above) from Alleway et al. 2019 shows ecosystem services for bivalve aquaculture. However, these services can also be applied to seaweed aquaculture.

Specific Ecosystem Services of Kelp Aquaculture:

  • Provisioning Service: Food and raw materials
  • Regulating Service: Waste water – denitrification
  • Cultural Service: Sense of place – employment
  • Supporting Service: Habitat – shelter

This research is focusing on the supporting service, habitat creation, because this service is the least studied in temperate kelp aquaculture.

Project Overview

This project has been funded by The Nature Conservancy and Maine EPSCoR

  • Through The Nature Conservancy we have quantified organism abundance within farm sites by using GoPro cameras, and small invertebrate collections.
  • Funding from Maine EPSCoR has allowed this project to incorporate environmental DNA (eDNA) methods to evaluate habitat creation in kelp farms.
  • The Nature Conservancy has also partnered our Maine team with a team at the University of Auckland in New Zealand. Our teams will perform the same methods on our kelp farms to evaluate habitat creation so we can compare how this supporting service differs between hemispheres.

Graduate student, Emilly Schutt, placing a GoPro camera on a kelp farm spacer buoy to capture organisms within the kelp blades.
Graduate student, Emilly Schutt and undergraduate student, Hannah Korper, analyzing collections of small invertebrates.
One of the four kelp farms that are being used to assess habitat creation in temperate kelp aquaculture. This farm resides in Saco Bay, off the Northeast side of Ram Island.


This project aims to quantify the supporting service, habitat creation through the use of various methods included GoPro camera survey’s, small invertebrate collections, and eDNA. Quantifying habitat creation will fill knowledge gaps as habitat services are the least studied ecosystem services in temperate kelp aquaculture.