Create hole habitats (>50 mm) on subtidal artificial structures

How is the evidence assessed?
  • Effectiveness
    not assessed
  • Certainty
    not assessed
  • Harms
    not assessed

Study locations

Key messages

  • Three studies examined the effects of creating hole habitats on subtidal artificial structures on the biodiversity of those structures. One study was on an open coastline in northern Israel, one was in a marina in northern Israel, and one was off the west coast of Sweden.

COMMUNITY RESPONSE (3 STUDIES)

  • Overall community composition (3 studies): Three replicated, controlled studies (including one randomized, paired sites, before-and-after study) in Israel and off Sweden found that creating hole habitats on subtidal artificial structures, along with grooves, environmentally-sensitive material and pits or small ledges in two studies, altered the combined macroalgae and invertebrate or mobile invertebrate and fish community composition on and around structures. They also supported mobile invertebrate, non-mobile invertebrate and/or fish species that were absent from structure surfaces without added habitat features.
  • Overall richness/diversity (3 studies): Two of three replicated, controlled studies (including one randomized, paired sites, before-and-after study) in Israel and off Sweden found that creating hole habitats on subtidal artificial structures, along with grooves, environmentally-sensitive material and pits or small ledges, increased the combined macroalgae and invertebrate species richness and/or diversity on and around structures. One found that creating holes did not increase the combined mobile invertebrate and fish species richness or diversity.

POPULATION RESPONSE (2 STUDIES)

  • Overall abundance (1 study): One replicated, controlled study off Sweden reported that creating hole habitats on subtidal artificial structures did not increase the combined mobile invertebrate and fish abundance on and around structures.
  • Algal abundance (1 study): One replicated, controlled study in Israel reported that creating hole habitats on a subtidal artificial structure, along with pits, grooves and environmentally-sensitive material, had mixed effects on macroalgal abundances on structure surfaces, depending on the species group.
  • Invertebrate abundance (2 studies): One of two replicated, controlled studies in Israel and off Sweden found that creating hole habitats on subtidal artificial structures increased the abundance of brown crabs on and around structures, but not other mobile invertebrates. One reported that creating holes, along with pits grooves and environmentally-sensitive material, had mixed effects on invertebrate abundances, depending on the species group.
  • Fish abundance (2 studies): One of two replicated, controlled studies in Israel and off Sweden found that creating hole habitats on subtidal artificial structures did not increase fish species abundances on and around structures. One reported that creating holes, along with pits grooves and environmentally-sensitive material, had mixed effects on fish abundances, depending on the species group.

BEHAVIOUR (0 STUDIES)

About key messages

Key messages provide a descriptive index to studies we have found that test this intervention.

Studies are not directly comparable or of equal value. When making decisions based on this evidence, you should consider factors such as study size, study design, reported metrics and relevance of the study to your situation, rather than simply counting the number of studies that support a particular interpretation.

Supporting evidence from individual studies

  1. A replicated, controlled study in 2012–2014 on two subtidal breakwaters on open coastline in the Mediterranean Sea, Israel (Sella & Perkol-Finkel 2015) found that hole habitats created on breakwater blocks, along with pits, grooves and environmentally-sensitive material, supported different macroalgae and invertebrate community composition with higher species diversity than standard-concrete blocks without added habitats, while macroalgae, invertebrate and fish abundances varied depending on the species group. After 24 months, the macroalgae and invertebrate species diversity was higher on blocks with added habitats than without (data reported as Shannon index) and the community composition differed (data reported as statistical model results). Thirty species (7 mobile invertebrates, 14 non-mobile invertebrates, 9 fishes) recorded on and around blocks with added habitats were absent from blocks without. Species abundances varied on blocks with and without added habitats depending on the species group (see paper for results). It is not clear whether these effects were the direct result of creating holes, pits, grooves, or using environmentally-sensitive material. Hole habitats were created on breakwater blocks (1 × 1 × 1 m) using a formliner. Each block had multiple cube-shaped (60 × 60 × 60 mm), cylindrical (diameter: 30 mm; depth: 100 mm) and hemispherical (diameter: 150 mm; depth: 100 mm) holes (T. Hadary pers. comms.) amongst multiple pits and grooves (number/spacing not reported). Five blocks of each of three patented ECOncreteTM materials (lower pH and different cement/additives to standard-concrete) were placed at 5–7 m depth on a concrete-block breakwater during construction in July 2012. Five standard-concrete blocks (1.7 × 1.7 × 1.7 m) without added habitats were placed on a similar breakwater 80 m away. Macroalgae and invertebrates on blocks, and fishes on and around blocks, were counted over 24 months.

    Study and other actions tested
  2. A replicated, randomized, paired sites, controlled, before-and-after study in 2014–2016 on a subtidal seawall in a marina in the Mediterranean Sea, Israel (Perkol-Finkel et al. 2018) found that hole habitats created on seawall panels, along with grooves, small ledges and environmentally-sensitive material, supported higher macroalgae and invertebrate species diversity and richness and different community composition compared with standard-concrete seawall surfaces without added habitats. After 22 months, macroalgae and invertebrate species diversity (data reported as Shannon index) and richness was higher on panels with added habitats (9 species/quadrat) than on seawall surfaces without (5/quadrat), and compared with seawall surfaces before habitats were added (1/quadrat). Community composition differed between panels with added habitats and seawall surfaces without (data reported as statistical model results). Two non-mobile invertebrate species groups recorded on panels were absent from surfaces without. It is not clear whether these effects were the direct result of creating holes, grooves, ledges, or using environmentally-sensitive material. Hole habitats were created on seawall panels (height: 1.5 m; width: 0.9 m; thickness: 130 mm) using a formliner. Each panel had six cylindrical holes (diameter: 30 mm; depth: 120 mm; ≥300 mm apart) amongst multiple grooves and small ledges. Panels were made from patented ECOncreteTM material. Four panels were attached to a vertical concrete seawall in November 2014. The bottom 1.2 m were subtidal. Panels were compared with standard-concrete seawall surfaces cleared of organisms (height: 1.2 m; width: 0.9 m) adjacent to each panel. Macroalgae and invertebrates were counted in one 300 × 300 mm randomly-placed quadrat on each panel and seawall surface over 22 months.

    Study and other actions tested
  3. A replicated, controlled study in 2007–2019 on 21 subtidal wave buoy foundations in the North Sea, off the coast of Sweden (Bender et al. 2020) found that creating hole habitats on foundations did not increase the mobile invertebrate and fish species diversity, richness or overall abundance, but did alter their community composition and increase brown crab Cancer pagurus abundances. After 12 years, the mobile invertebrate and fish species diversity (data reported as Shannon and Evenness indices), richness and abundance were similar on and around foundations with holes (10 species/foundation, 51 individuals/foundation) and those without (9 species/foundation, 33 individuals/foundation). The community composition, however, differed (data reported as statistical model results). Three mobile invertebrate species recorded on and around foundations with holes were absent from those without. Brown crabs were more abundant on and around foundations with holes (11/foundation) than without (4/foundation), while the abundances of 47 other fish and mobile invertebrates were similar for both (see paper for results). Hole habitats were created in April 2007 by drilling into the vertical sides of concrete foundations (diameter: 3 m; height: 1 m). There were 26 evenly-spaced cuboidal holes/foundation (width: 120 mm; height: 150 mm; depth: 300 mm): 13 at seabed level and 13 at 0.5 m above the seabed. Eleven foundations with holes and 10 without were placed on sandy seabed at 25 m depth. Fishes and mobile invertebrates were counted on and around (<1 m radius) foundations over 12 years. Holes at seabed level had been buried by sediment and no longer provided habitats.

    Study and other actions tested
Please cite as:

Evans, A.J., Moore, P.J., Firth, L.B., Smith, R.K., and Sutherland, W.J. (2021) Enhancing the Biodiversity of Marine Artificial Structures: Global Evidence for the Effects of Interventions. Conservation Evidence Series Synopses. University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK.

Where has this evidence come from?

List of journals searched by synopsis

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Biodiversity of Marine Artificial Structures

This Action forms part of the Action Synopsis:

Biodiversity of Marine Artificial Structures
Biodiversity of Marine Artificial Structures

Biodiversity of Marine Artificial Structures - Published 2021

Enhancing biodiversity of marine artificial structures synopsis

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