Strongylocentrotus purpuratus (Purple Sea Urchin)

Purple sea urchins

are marine invertebrates that live in the low intertidal and subtidal zones. They are widespread along the western Pacific coastline, ranging from Baja California, Mexico to British Columbia, Canada. They are a key player in the kelp forest food web, being a major consumer of kelp.

As a common and widespread marine species, S. pururatus can provide important insight into how marine invertebrates adapt to the mosaic of environmental conditions represented in the California Current System. In addition, population explosions of urchins can decimate entire kelp forest ecosystems, transforming them into “urchin barrens.” Kelp forest restoration efforts that remove urchins to allow for kelp regrowth would benefit from understanding connectivity patterns across range.