Floating and fixed artificial habitats: Spatial and temporal patterns of benthic communities in a coral reef environment

S. Perkol-Finkel*, G. Zilman, I. Sella, T. Miloh, Y. Benayahu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

While natural marine habitats with motion capabilities, e.g., kelps and seaweeds, have been studied alongside their associated fouling communities, little is known of the effect of motion on the communities of floating artificial habitats such as buoys, rafts, and pontoons, particularly in tropical systems. Hydrodynamic features greatly differ between floating and fixed artificial substrata, which in turn affect the structure of their associated communities. This study tested the hypothesis that floating and fixed artificial installations in a tropical reef system (Eilat, Red Sea) would support different benthic communities throughout space and time. Specifically, we examined differences in communities recruited onto settlement plates between floating and fixed installations deployed at three different sites, along a two-year monitoring period. The three sites exhibited distinct differences in species assemblages between the monitoring dates (6, 12, 18 and 24 months post deployment), mainly between the first and the last two dates. The average level of dissimilarity between floating and fixed installations increased over time at all sites. Over 50% of the dissimilarity between the floating and fixed installations resulted from five taxonomic groups i.e., bryozoans, bivalves, barnacles, sponges, including the amount of bare space on the settlement plates. The contribution of these groups to the dissimilarity changed both temporally within each site, and spatially among sites. The observed differences were related to the hydrodynamic characteristics of floating and fixed habitats, interacting with biotic features such as predation, successional processes and seasonality; and abiotic features including small-scale spatial changes, light, and position in the water column.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)491-500
Number of pages10
JournalEstuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science
Volume77
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 20 Apr 2008

Funding

FundersFunder number
George S. Wise Faculty of Life Sciences
Tel-Aviv University
Tobias Landau Foundation
Tel Aviv University

    Keywords

    • artificial reefs
    • benthic communities
    • coastal structures
    • corals
    • hydrodynamics
    • substratum motion

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