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Material type influences the abundance but not richness of colonising organisms on marine structures


Dodds, KC and Schaefer, N and Bishop, MJ and Nakagawa, S and Brooks, PR and Knights, AM and Strain, EMA, Material type influences the abundance but not richness of colonising organisms on marine structures, Journal of Environmental Management, 307 Article 114549. ISSN 0301-4797 (2022) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

2022 Published by Elsevier Ltd.

DOI: doi:10.1016/j.jenvman.2022.114549


Urbanisation of coastal areas and growth in the blue economy drive the proliferation of artificial structures in marine environments. These structures support distinct ecological communities compared to natural hard substrates, potentially reflecting differences in the materials from which they are constructed. We undertook a meta-analysis of 46 studies to compare the effects of different material types (natural or eco-friendly vs. artificial) on the colonising biota on built structures. Neither the abundance nor richness of colonists displayed consistent patterns of difference between artificial and natural substrates or between eco-friendly and standard concrete. Instead, there were differences in the abundance of organisms (but not richness) between artificial and natural materials, that varied according to material type and by functional group. When compared to biogenic materials and rock, polymer and metal supported significantly lower abundances of total benthic species (in studies assessing sessile and mobile species together), sessile invertebrates and corals (in studies assessing these groups individually). In contrast, non-indigenous species were significantly more abundant on wood than metal. Concrete supported greater abundances of the general community, including habitat-forming species, compared to wood. Our results suggest that the ecological requirements of the biological community, alongside economic, logistic and engineering factors should be considered in material selection for multifunctional marine structures that deliver both engineering and ecological (enhanced abundance and diversity) benefits.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:artificial structures, restoration, eco-engineering, colonisation, marine construction, meta-analysis, multifunctional design
Research Division:Environmental Sciences
Research Group:Environmental management
Research Field:Environmental rehabilitation and restoration
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Marine systems and management
Objective Field:Rehabilitation or conservation of marine environments
UTAS Author:Strain, EMA (Dr Beth Strain)
ID Code:148558
Year Published:2022
Web of Science® Times Cited:9
Deposited By:Sustainable Marine Research Collaboration
Deposited On:2022-01-24
Last Modified:2022-10-13

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