Eco-engineered rock pools: a concrete solution to biodiversity loss and urban sprawl in the marine environment

  • Published source details Firth L.B., Browne K.A., Knights A.M., Hawkins S.J. & Nash R. (2016) Eco-engineered rock pools: a concrete solution to biodiversity loss and urban sprawl in the marine environment. Environmental Research Letters, 11, 094015.


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Create 'rock pools' on intertidal artificial structures

Action Link
Biodiversity of Marine Artificial Structures
  1. Create 'rock pools' on intertidal artificial structures

    A replicated study in 2013–2015 on an intertidal causeway on open coastline in Galway Bay, Ireland (Firth et al. 2016) reported that rock pools created on the wave-exposed side of the causeway were used by macroalgae, invertebrates and fish, but that pools created on the wave-sheltered side filled with sediment and failed to provide rock pool habitat. After 24 months, a total of 72 macroalgae, invertebrate and fish species groups (highshore: 37; midshore: 63) from 11 functional groups (highshore: 10; midshore: 11) were recorded in pools on the wave-exposed side of the causeway (data not statistically tested). Average species richness was similar in highshore (14 species groups/pool) and midshore (17/pool) pools, but the community composition differed (data reported as statistical model results). The average number of functional groups was lower in highshore (7/pool) than midshore (9/pool) pools. Rock pools were created by pouring concrete around buckets in the base of Shepherd Hill Energy Dissipation units on a causeway, then removing the buckets to leave bucket-shaped pools (top diameter: 130–140 mm; bottom diameter: 110 mm; depth 100–120 mm). Twenty pools were created at both highshore and midshore on each side of the causeway (wave-exposed, wave-sheltered) in June 2013. Macroalgae, invertebrates and fishes in pools were counted during low tide over 24 months and in the laboratory after 24 months. Species were grouped into functional groups according to their role in the community (shape/structure and feeding strategy). All pools on the sheltered side had filled with sediment and no longer provided rock pool habitat.

    (Summarised by: Ally Evans)

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