Assessments of human impacts on natural habitats often focus on the abundance of component species, yet physiological and/or sub-lethal effects of stressors on functional attributes may be equally important to consider. Here we evaluated how artificial structures, an integral part of urbanisation in the marine environment, affects key functional properties of the habitat-forming kelp Ecklonia radiata. Given that stressors rarely occur in isolation, we assessed the effects of infrastructure across an urbanised estuary. Estuaries are ideal for studying how multiple anthropogenic and natural stressors influence potential impacts of infrastructure on habitat-forming species because these habitats usually face a wide range and levels of stressors. Here, we compared the abundance of habitat-forming macro-algae as well as the growth, erosion and photosynthetic activity of kelp in artificial and natural habitats across one of the largest urbanised estuaries in the word - Sydney Harbour. We predicted that effects of artificial structures on functional attributes of kelps would be stronger in the inner area of the Harbour, characterised by higher levels of human impacts and low flushing. Contrary to our predictions, we found that effects of infrastructure were consistent across the estuary, regardless of the ecological footprint caused by human activities or natural environmental gradients. When differences were observed between areas of the estuary, they mostly occurred independently of impacts of substrate type. Importantly, we found lower erosion rates of kelp on pilings than on reefs, likely resulting in lower production of detritus in estuaries where natural reefs are degraded or lost and pilings added. Such impacts have important implications for the connectivity among coastal habitats and secondary productivity in adjacent and remote habitats, which are highly dependent on the exportation of kelp detritus. Our study is the first to assess potential functional consequences of urbanisation through physiological and/or biomechanical effects on habitat-formers, an often overlooked mechanism of environmental impact on ecosystem functioning.
Marine Environmental Research – Elsevier
Published: Aug 1, 2018
It’s your single place to instantly
discover and read the research
that matters to you.
Enjoy affordable access to
over 18 million articles from more than
15,000 peer-reviewed journals.
All for just $49/month
Query the DeepDyve database, plus search all of PubMed and Google Scholar seamlessly
Save any article or search result from DeepDyve, PubMed, and Google Scholar... all in one place.
Get unlimited, online access to over 18 million full-text articles from more than 15,000 scientific journals.
Read from thousands of the leading scholarly journals from SpringerNature, Elsevier, Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford University Press and more.
All the latest content is available, no embargo periods.
“Hi guys, I cannot tell you how much I love this resource. Incredible. I really believe you've hit the nail on the head with this site in regards to solving the research-purchase issue.”Daniel C.
“Whoa! It’s like Spotify but for academic articles.”@Phil_Robichaud
“I must say, @deepdyve is a fabulous solution to the independent researcher's problem of #access to #information.”@deepthiw
“My last article couldn't be possible without the platform @deepdyve that makes journal papers cheaper.”@JoseServera