Marine and Freshwater Research Marine and Freshwater Research Society
Advances in the aquatic sciences
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Facing the future: the importance of substratum features for ecological engineering of artificial habitats in the rocky intertidal

Louise B. Firth A B H I , Freya J. White B , Meredith Schofield B , Mick E. Hanley C , Michael T. Burrows D , Richard C. Thompson E , Martin W. Skov B , Ally J. Evans F , Pippa J. Moore F and Stephen J. Hawkins B G H
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Science, Plymouth University, Drake Circus, Plymouth, PL8 4AA, UK.

B School of Ocean Sciences, Bangor University, Menai Bridge, Anglesey, LL59 5AB, UK.

C School of Biological Sciences, Plymouth University, Drake Circus, Plymouth, PL4 8AA, UK.

D Department of Ecology, Scottish Association for Marine Science, Scottish Marine Institute, Oban, Argyll, PA37 1QA, UK.

E School of Marine Science and Engineering, Plymouth University, Drake Circus, Plymouth, PL4 8AA, UK.

F Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences, Aberystwyth University, Aberystwyth, Ceredigion, SY23 3DA, UK.

G The Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, The Laboratory, Citadel Hill, Plymouth, PL1 2PB, UK.

H Present address: Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography Centre Southampton, Waterfront Campus, University of Southampton, European Way, Southampton, Hampshire SO14 3ZH, UK.

I Corresponding author. Email: louise.firth@plymouth.ac.uk

Marine and Freshwater Research 67(1) 131-143 https://doi.org/10.1071/MF14163
Submitted: 18 June 2014  Accepted: 4 December 2014   Published: 13 July 2015

Abstract

Coastal defences are proliferating in response to climate change, leading to the creation of more vertical substrata. Efforts are being made to mitigate their impacts and create novel habitats to promote biodiversity. Little is known about the effect of aspect (i.e. north–south directionality) and inclination on intertidal biodiversity in artificial habitats. Artificial and natural habitats were compared to assess the role of aspect and substratum inclination in determining patterns of biodiversity at two tidal heights (high and mid). We also compared grazing activity between north- and south-facing surfaces in natural habitats to examine the potential for differential grazing pressure to affect community structure and functioning. Results were variable but some clear patterns emerged. Inclination had no effect on biodiversity or abundance. There was a general trend towards greater taxon richness and abundance on north-facing than south-facing substrata in natural and artificial habitats. On natural shores, the abundance and grazing activity of ‘southern’ limpets (i.e. Patella depressa) was greater on south-facing than north-facing substrata, with possible implications for further range-expansion. These results highlight the importance of incorporating shaded habitats in the construction of artificial habitats. These habitats may represent an important refuge from grazing pressure and thermal and desiccation stress in a warming climate.

Additional keywords: artificial coastal defence structure, aspect, biodiversity, grazing pressure, substratum inclination.


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