Fluctuations in population fecundity drive variation in demographic connectivity and metapopulation dynamics.
Fluid-dynamic transport and mixing processes affect birth, death, immigration and emigration rates in kelp forests, and can modulate broader community interactions. In the most highly studied canopy-forming kelp, Macrocystis pyrifera (the giant kelp), models of hydrodynamic and oceanographic phenomena influencing spore movement provide bounds on reproduction, quantify patterns of local and regional propagule supply, identify scales of population connectivity, and establish context for agents of early life mortality. Other analyses yield insight into flow-mediated species interactions within kelp forests. In each case, advances emerge from the use of ecomechanical approaches that propagate physical-biological connections at the scale of the individual to higher levels of ecological organization. In systems where physical factors strongly influence population, community or ecosystem properties, such mechanics-based methods promote crucial progress but are just beginning to realize their full potential.