The University of Southampton
University of Southampton Institutional Repository

Low-crested coastal defence structures as artificial habitats for marine life: Using ecological criteria in design

Moschella, P., Abbiati, M., Åberg, P., Airoldi, L., Anderson, J., Bacchiocchi, F., Bulleri, F., Dinesen, G., Frost, M., Gacia, E., Granhag, L., Jonsson, P.R., Satta, M.P., Sundelöf, A., Thompsonf, R.C. and Hawkins, S.J. (2005) Low-crested coastal defence structures as artificial habitats for marine life: Using ecological criteria in design Coastal Engineering, 52, (10-11), pp. 1053-1071. (doi:10.1016/j.coastaleng.2005.09.014).

Record type: Article


Coastal defence structures to protect sedimentary coastlines from erosion and flooding are increasingly common throughout Europe. They will become more widespread over the next 10–30 years in response to rising and stormier seas and accelerating economic development of the coastal zone. Building coastal defences results in the loss and fragmentation of sedimentary habitats and their replacement by artificial rocky habitats that become colonised by algae and marine animals. The engineering design and construction of these structures have received considerable attention. However, the ecological consequences of coastal defences have been less extensively investigated. Furthermore, due to their rapid proliferation, there is a growing need to understand the role of these man-made habitats in the coastal ecosystems in order to implement impact minimisation and/or mitigation measures.

As part of the DELOS project, targeted studies were carried out throughout Europe to assess the ecological similarity of low-crested coastal defence structures (LCS) to natural rocky shores and to investigate the influence of LCS design features on the colonising marine epibiota. LCSs can be considered as a relatively poor surrogate of natural rocky shores. Epibiotic communities were qualitatively similar to those on natural rocky shores as both habitats are regulated by the same physical and biological factors. However, there were quantitative differences in the diversity and abundance of epibiota on artificial structures. Typically, epibiotic assemblages were less diverse than rocky shore communities. Also, LCSs offered less structurally complex habitats for colonisation and in some locations experienced higher disturbance than natural shores. We propose several criteria that can be integrated into the design and construction of LCSs to minimise ecological impacts and allow targeted management of diversity and natural living resources.

Full text not available from this repository.

More information

Published date: November 2005
Keywords: Coastal defences, Rocky shores, LCS design, Benthic communities, Biodiversity, Habitat complexity, Disturbance


Local EPrints ID: 188257
ISSN: 0378-3839
PURE UUID: 088e3545-ca80-4af4-818e-04a59974b5e7

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 23 May 2011 11:10
Last modified: 18 Jul 2017 11:42

Export record



Author: P. Moschella
Author: M. Abbiati
Author: P. Åberg
Author: L. Airoldi
Author: J. Anderson
Author: F. Bacchiocchi
Author: F. Bulleri
Author: G. Dinesen
Author: M. Frost
Author: E. Gacia
Author: L. Granhag
Author: P.R. Jonsson
Author: M.P. Satta
Author: A. Sundelöf
Author: R.C. Thompsonf
Author: S.J. Hawkins

University divisions

Download statistics

Downloads from ePrints over the past year. Other digital versions may also be available to download e.g. from the publisher's website.

View more statistics

Atom RSS 1.0 RSS 2.0

Contact ePrints Soton:

ePrints Soton supports OAI 2.0 with a base URL of

This repository has been built using EPrints software, developed at the University of Southampton, but available to everyone to use.

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we will assume that you are happy to receive cookies on the University of Southampton website.