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Identifying the consequences of ocean sprawl for sedimentary habitats


Heery, EC and Bishop, MJ and Critchley, LP and Bugnot, AB and Airoldi, L and Mayer-Pinto, M and Sheehan, EV and Coleman, RA and Loke, LHL and Johnston, EL and Komyakova, v and Morris, RL and Strain, EMA and Naylor, LA and Dafforn, KA, Identifying the consequences of ocean sprawl for sedimentary habitats, Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 472 pp. 31-48. ISSN 0022-0981 (2017) [Refereed Article]


Copyright Statement

Copyright 2017 The Authors. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

DOI: doi:10.1016/j.jembe.2017.01.020


Extensive development and construction in marine and coastal systems is driving a phenomenon known as "ocean sprawl". Ocean sprawl removes or transforms marine habitats through the addition of artificial structures and some of the most significant impacts are occurring in sedimentary environments. Marine sediments have substantial social, ecological, and economic value, as they are rich in biodiversity, crucial to fisheries productivity, and major sites of nutrient transformation. Yet the impact of ocean sprawl on sedimentary environments has largely been ignored. Here we review current knowledge of the impacts to sedimentary ecosystems arising from artificial structures.

Artificial structures alter the composition and abundance of a wide variety of sediment-dependent taxa, including microbes, invertebrates, and benthic-feeding fishes. The effects vary by structure design and configuration, as well as the physical, chemical, and biological characteristics of the environment in which structures are placed. The mechanisms driving effects from artificial structures include placement loss, habitat degradation, modification of sound and light conditions, hydrodynamic changes, organic enrichment and material fluxes, contamination, and altered biotic interactions. Most studies have inferred mechanism based on descriptive work, comparing biological and physical processes at various distances from structures. Further experimental studies are needed to identify the relative importance of multiple mechanisms and to demonstrate causal relationships. Additionally, past studies have focused on impacts at a relatively small scale, and independently of other development that is occurring. There is need to quantify large-scale and cumulative effects on sedimentary ecosystems as artificial structures proliferate. We highlight the importance for comprehensive monitoring using robust survey designs and outline research strategies needed to understand, value, and protect marine sedimentary ecosystems in the face of a rapidly changing environment.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:artificial structure, coastal defense, ecological impact, marine sediment, offshore wind farm, urbanization
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Ecology
Research Field:Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology)
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Marine systems and management
Objective Field:Assessment and management of benthic marine ecosystems
UTAS Author:Strain, EMA (Dr Beth Strain)
ID Code:141411
Year Published:2017
Web of Science® Times Cited:132
Deposited By:Sustainable Marine Research Collaboration
Deposited On:2020-10-19
Last Modified:2020-11-19
Downloads:20 View Download Statistics

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