palythoa caribaeorum

A centuries-old manmade reef in the Caribbean does not substitute natural reefs in terms of species assemblages and interspecific competition


With increasing maritime activities in the proximity of coral reefs, a growing number of manmade structures are becoming available for coral colonisation. Yet, little is known about the sessile community composition of such artificial reefs in comparison with that of natural coral reefs. Here, we compared the diversity of corals and their competitors for substrate space between a centuries-old manmade structure and the nearest natural reef at St. Eustatius, eastern Caribbean. The artificial reef had a significantly lower species richness and fewer competitive interactions than the natural reef. The artificial reef was dominated by a cover of crustose coralline algae and zoantharians, instead of turf algae and fire corals on the natural reef. Significant differences in species compo-sition were also found between exposed and sheltered sites on both reefs. Our study indicates that even a centuries-old manmade reef cannot serve as a surrogate for natural reefs

Data type
Scientific article
Research and monitoring
Geographic location
St. Eustatius