Eco-engineering rock pools to a seawall in a tropical estuary: microhabitat features and fine sediment accumulation

Waltham, Nathan J., and Sheaves, Marcus (2018) Eco-engineering rock pools to a seawall in a tropical estuary: microhabitat features and fine sediment accumulation. Ecological Engineering, 120. pp. 631-636.

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Abstract

Seawalls made from rock and concrete are engineered to defend coastlines and infrastructure from sea level rise, storm surge and shoreline erosion. However, while they provide a poor substitute for natural intertidal habitat, emerging designs addressing this biodiversity deficit have incorporated eco-engineering concepts with promising results. This study tested whether adding inexpensive household flower boxes (artificial rock pools) to a seawall in a tropical region would support benthic flora and fauna, and whether simple orientation of boxes improves benthic assemblage colonization. Boxes were positioned at mean tide height (1.1m AHD) along a seawall in tropical Townsville, Australia. Nine boxes were deployed: three positioned vertically on the seawall, while three positioned at 45° facing towards the sea, and three positioned at 45° facing towards the land. Tilting the artificial rock pools at 45° compared overhang walls (simulating rocky shoreline ledge microhabitat) to vertical walls of artificial rock pools. After 12mths, boxes had accumulated (particularly inside on overhang walls compared to outside walls) a greater surface cover of algae and invertebrates. After the second year, box inside walls supported vastly different assemblages compared to outside box walls regardless of orientation, with the most diverse benthic assemblage found on overhang walls, giving support to the conclusion that artificial rock pools on seawalls support more biodiversity (of native species, with no non-indigenous species found) from tilting and creating overhangs. The turbid nature of this coastal region contributed to sediment accumulation at about 25 mm/yr, regardless of box orientation, which may pose maintenance problems (and cost) for managers, and if unchecked could negate any advantages offered by these engineered pool features.

Item ID: 54854
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1872-6992
Keywords: eco-engineering; seawalls; restoration; sedimentation; tropical estuaries; urbanization
Copyright Information: © 2018 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Funders: James Cook University (JCU), TropWATER
Projects and Grants: JCU College of Science and Engineering
Date Deposited: 27 Aug 2018 03:08
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050205 Environmental Management @ 50%
05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050206 Environmental Monitoring @ 50%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960507 Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Marine Environments @ 30%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960802 Coastal and Estuarine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 40%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960503 Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Coastal and Estuarine Environments @ 30%
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