The effects of wave exposure and host cover on coral-associated fauna of a centuries-old artificial reef in the Caribbean


An increasing number of artificial reefs (ARs) are constructed to compensate for the loss of natural reefs (NRs),
but little is known about their benthic community composition. Here, we compared the densities of coral-
associated fauna (CAF) between a centuries-old manmade structure and the nearest NR at St. Eustatius,
eastern Caribbean. Overall, no significant difference in the density of CAF (coral-dwelling barnacles, crabs,
worms) was found between the NR and the AR, nor between the exposed and sheltered sides of each. Signifi-
cantly different densities of CAF related to host cover were observed among corals on both the AR and the NR.
Per host species, the AR did not show such differences in density between exposed and sheltered sides, although
these differences were observed on the NR. Thus, turbulence and host cover regulate the density of CAF, while
differences also depend on host species composition. Furthermore, from an ecological engineering perspective,
the present AR resembles the NR in overall design, but not in relief rugosity and surface structure, which are also
considered important contributors to the difference in species assemblages of the host corals and their CAF, even
after many decades of community development

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