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Life-span of the Fronds of the Giant Kelp, Macrocystis pyrifera


THE large brown attached alga, Macrocystis pyrifera, member of a widespread genus, is of considerable importance as the direct and indirect source of food for a large number of near-shore animals; it is also gathered by man, to be used as fertilizer, food additives, and it is processed for certain of its chemical constituents. The fronds develop continuously from growing points located on the perennial hold-fast at the base of the plant1. Little information exists about the life-span of the fronds, although this is a factor of considerable importance in management of the resource and in computing the productivity of the kelp groves. Authors have estimated the life-span as several months1,2. Further information is now available as a by-product of work on rate of growth in several kelp-beds spread over a geographical range of about 150 km.

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  1. Scagel, R. F., An Investigation on Marine Plants near Hardy Bay B.C. (Provincial Dept. of Fisheries, Victoria, British Columbia 1947).

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  2. Brandt, R. P., Potash from Kelp (U.S. Dept. Agric., Bull. No. 1191, 1923).

  3. North, W. J., Yale Sci. Mag., 31 (1956).

  4. Cribb, A. B., Austral. J. Mar. Freshwater Res., 5, 1 (1954).

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NORTH, W. Life-span of the Fronds of the Giant Kelp, Macrocystis pyrifera . Nature 190, 1214–1215 (1961).

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