Oral Presentation Australian Society for Fish Biology Conference 2017

Ecological changes to the marine community after instalment of an artificial reef on the south-west coast of Western Australia. (#33)

Matthew Hammond 1 , Dianne McLean 1 , Todd Bond 1 , Renae Hovey 1
  1. University of Western Australia, South Perth, WESTERN AUSTRALIA, Australia

Hard bottom habitat can be a primary limiting resource. Artificial structures are often used to alleviate this constraint and increase local marine populations. However insufficient research into the effects of artificial reefs on recruitment, species diversity, abundance and biomass make it difficult to determine the effectiveness of this technique. The following study employed multiple sampling methods to investigate the ecological changes undergone by fish assemblages, macroinvertebrate communities and macroalgae and seagrass cover after installation of an artificial reef. The Coogee maritime trial was installed on the south-west coast of Western Australia in July 2016. The trail comprises the existing Omeo ship wreck and a variety of differently designed concrete structures. The study incorporated a Before After Control Impact (BACI) approach to assess if the artificial reef influenced the diversity, abundance and size-structure of fish assemblages, diversity and abundance of macroinvertebrates and the diversity and cover of macroalgae and seagrass. Multiple control sites where surveyed including the southern breakwater at Port Coogee, the bay exhibiting mostly bare sand and the Omeo ship wreck. These sites where compared with the reef site before installation and at three and ten months’ post installation. The results will be used to evaluate the effectiveness of the Coogee maritime trail in increasing species diversity, abundance and biomass. Insight into the practical applications of artificial reefs to achieve advancements in ecotourism and biodiversity conservation could help sustain the growing popularity of sports diving and provide a solution to the reduction in biodiversity observed in many coastal ecosystems around the world.

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