Free Content Fouling Community Development on an Artificial Reef in Hawaiian Waters

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Artificial reefs have considerable potential for enhancing near shore fisheries by increasing habitat space and cover. The growth of sessile epibiota on artificial structures provides food for some reef fish, and eventually increases cover by adding to the three-dimensional structure of the artificial reef. Recruitment and community development were followed on PVC plates (18 × 20 cm) attached vertically to a concrete cube reef in 20 m of water off southeast Oahu, Hawaii. Plates were removed and replaced after immersion for 2-week, 2-, 6- and 12-month periods over a year. Rock oysters and tubeworms were the most frequent solitary recruits, and bryozoans the most numerous colonial invertebrates. Open space decreased with length of immersion, and algal cover was highest in summer. Fleshy algae, crustose corallines and bryozoans dominated the plates after a year. Fast growth, early onset of reproduction and self seeding made bryozoans and tubeworms dominant on longer term plates. Colonial tunicates and sponges were unimportant after a year, which is in contrast to community development at shallower depths in Hawaii (3–18 mo immersion) and on Jamaican reefs (36 month immersion). An understanding of benthic community development on artificial materials is relevant to evaluating artificial reefs as fish community enhancement tools. Filamentous algae and solitary invertebrates provide food for some fish and invertebrates within a 2-week period of immersion. Grazing opens up space for such species, while longer immersion leads to greater species richness and to an increase in calcified algae and invertebrates. The surfaces of artificial materials become more complex due to the accretion of tubes, shells and skeletons of attached invertebrates. Seasonal settlement and algal growth appear to be important in subtropical waters and may determine the sequence of benthic recruitment to newly immersed structures and the availability of a food source to recruiting fish.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 1989

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  • The Bulletin of Marine Science is dedicated to the dissemination of high quality research from the world's oceans. All aspects of marine science are treated by the Bulletin of Marine Science, including papers in marine biology, biological oceanography, fisheries, marine affairs, applied marine physics, marine geology and geophysics, marine and atmospheric chemistry, and meteorology and physical oceanography.
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