There are more than 27,000 harbours along coasts worldwide and construction is expected to increase. The development and application of new ecological engineering ideas, for both old and new structures, is now imperative in order to reduce perturbation on marine coastal biota and to avoid the spread of non-native species. In this study, the early benthic assessment of subtidal and intertidal communities is tracked on five artificial substrata differing in origin, roughness, and chemical composition: Oyster Sandstone, Limestone, Gabbro, Slate and Concrete. Within substrata, Sandstone was the roughest on a 1–2 mm scale. Also, Sandstone and Limestone had predominantly calcareous composition while silicon was abundant in Concrete, Gabbro and Slate. In the intertidal zone, results showed that primary productivity and diatom abundance markedly increased with substratum roughness. In the subtidal zone, species richness and diversity over experimental substrata were lower than in adjacent rocky reefs. Nonetheless, during the first year of colonization communities varied within the experimental substrata. Coverage was higher on Sandstone than Concrete and Gabbro, and species richness was higher on Sandstone than Limestone. The differences are related to intrinsic substratum-type characteristics and showed Limestone, Gabbro and Concrete hold relatively poor ecological benefits in the first phases of ecological succession. The results may help to promote future research in this field and to test different substrata combinations and heterogeneities, for more environmentally sustainable surfaces in design of coastal structures.
Estuarine Coastal and Shelf Science – Elsevier
Published: May 1, 2018
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