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

Low-crested coastal defence structures as artificial habitats for marine life: Using ecological criteria in design
Low-crested coastal defence structures as artificial habitats for marine life: Using ecological criteria in design
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.
Coastal defences, Rocky shores, LCS design, Benthic communities, Biodiversity, Habitat complexity, Disturbance
0378-3839
1053-1071
Moschella, P.
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Abbiati, M.
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Åberg, P.
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Airoldi, L.
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Anderson, J.
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Bacchiocchi, F.
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Bulleri, F.
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Dinesen, G.
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Frost, M.
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Gacia, E.
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Granhag, L.
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Jonsson, P.R.
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Satta, M.P.
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Sundelöf, A.
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Thompsonf, R.C.
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Hawkins, S.J.
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Moschella, P.
418c91ff-6308-4b09-84b8-fea6657c151e
Abbiati, M.
bc9d84f6-31b6-47a6-bda8-0e9f35f32f9c
Åberg, P.
2dada758-0d27-4d04-b18a-3a3dfa286e4c
Airoldi, L.
cd180085-19d1-4995-8938-52eee2cfbdf1
Anderson, J.
a8c59b71-26f6-4ffc-86ea-590411509a9f
Bacchiocchi, F.
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Bulleri, F.
ef97986a-b4a6-4a7c-a600-1227c0062ae2
Dinesen, G.
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Frost, M.
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Gacia, E.
94b7cdaa-999a-4d4c-bbc4-4a984085205c
Granhag, L.
3ed782c7-9f79-42a0-a172-52381d98ff50
Jonsson, P.R.
207bc90d-b592-462a-9f3f-a2f40af3a3d9
Satta, M.P.
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Sundelöf, A.
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Thompsonf, R.C.
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Hawkins, S.J.
758fe1c1-30cd-4ed1-bb65-2471dc7c11fa

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), 1053-1071. (doi:10.1016/j.coastaleng.2005.09.014).

Record type: Article

Abstract

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.

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More information

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

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 188257
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/188257
ISSN: 0378-3839
PURE UUID: 088e3545-ca80-4af4-818e-04a59974b5e7

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Date deposited: 23 May 2011 11:10
Last modified: 16 Jul 2019 23:33

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Contributors

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

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