Restoration Project

Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile - Parque Pan de Azucar

Restoration Objective:

This study aimed to address the loss of L. nigrescens by assessing its capacity for restoration. This study reports the design and testing of a transplanting device that allows experimental manipulation of the kelp in its natural habitat.

Site Selection Criteria:

Kelps were collected and replanted at the same site, where kelp was present naturally.

Cause Of Decline:

Lessonia nigrescens is one of the most ecologically and economically important species dominating the lower wave-swept intertidal rocky habitats of the eastern southern Pacific. It is an important ecosystem engineer, providing a refuge from desiccation stress and wave impact, food for grazers and habitat for several invertebrate taxa. However, L. nigrescens appears to have a limited tolerance to abiotic changes. This kelp has been decimated from large expanses of coastline in northern Chile due to inter-annual variability induced by the arrival of subtropical warm waters during the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO). Similarly, the chronic disposal of copper-mine wastes to coastal environments in northern Chile, has resulted in the loss of L. nigrescens.

Key Reasons For Decline:

Water Pollution

Scientific Paper

Experimental transplants of the large kelp Lessonia nigrescens (Phaeophyceae) in high-energy wave exposed rocky intertidal habitats of northern Chile: Experimental, restoration and management applications

J.A. Correa, N.A. Lagos, M.H. Medina, J.C. Castilla, M. Cerda, Contreras Ramirez, L. Contreras, , Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, Vol. 335.


Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile

Site Observations:

Observation Date

1st Jul 2003 – 1st Jul 2004

Action Summary:

Lessonia nigrescens was transplanted to the field after being detached from the natural substratum. A transplanting device was used to attach the holdfast to the substrate, consisting of 20x20cm pieces of reinforced Vexar net with two cuts in the middle to allow fronds to slip through. Transplant units were anchored to the substratum using steel bolts screwed to the rocky platform.

Lessons Learned:

This transplant experiment took place within an existing kelp bed so that controls were nearby, which may have contributed to survival rates. Length, holdfast diameter and survival rates were measured in control and test populations.

Project Outcomes:

Transplanted kelps regenerated, re-attached to the substratum and overgrew the transplanting device within two months. By months 7–9, healthy stands of fully developed L. nigrescens were established. There was 70% survival of transplanted kelps after three months. Six months after re-planting, more than 60% of transplanted plants survived, while no control plants were lost during the first six months of the experiment.

Nature of Disturbance:

The study sites experienced constant strong wave action, particularly during winter storms, and the beginning of an illegal harvesting rampage of natural kelp stands.

Key Reasons For Decline:

Water Pollution

Area of Restoration (In Square Metres)


Indicator Data:


Ending Value:

Starting Value:

Percent Survival

Transplant Info:
Adherence Method:Cable Tie and Mesh
Life Stage:Juveniles
Cost Currency:USD