HOPES have been raised for the ability of marine life to survive global warming by the discovery of kelp forests in the tropics.
Temperate water kelp forests, like coral reefs, are havens for marine biodiversity and could be vital as global warming increasingly affects the oceans.
The seaweed is traditionally not thought to be an obvious tropical "resident" because it requires cool water and lots of light. But scientists from California, Canada and Ecuador developed a model to determine if regions of the tropics had the light, nutrients and low temperatures kelp needs to survive.
According to a study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, they combined data about kelp’s physiological requirements with oceanographic data from the surface to the seabed.
The results revealed an area of more than 8,880 square miles in which sunlight and nutrients were intense enough for kelp to flourish, and the temperature was not too high.
Researchers tested the model by surveying a predicted area in the Galapagos Islands for kelp and found new, deep-water populations of the species.
The study said: "The existence of deep-water refuge for tropical kelp has profound biogeographical and evolutionary consequences."