Artificial Reefs vs Natural Reefs: Which are more habitable?

This topic submitted by Maria Gausman ( at 6:09 PM on 7/30/03.

The extreme tidal flow (~1 meter/sec) at Pigeon Creek, San Salvador, was measured with a current meter in "Blow-Outs" in the main channel.

Tropical Field Courses -Western Program-Miami University


Artificial reefs are man-made hard substrates purposely or accidentally placed on sea floors so that corals, sponges, algae, and any other reef-building organisms may colonize them. Like natural coral reefs, artificial reefs provide habitat for the same diversity of fish, invertebrates, and plants that natural reefs do.

The effectiveness of artificial reefs in rehabilitation of degrading coral reefs have been well studied. Common endpoints used to evaluate successfulness of artificial reefs are numbers, biomass, and species richness of both fish and coral. The duration of recruitment and the extent of attainment are also important endpoints to consider. It is possible that the same or better level of fish species richness and density found in undisturbed natural coral reefs may be obtained with artificial reefs within 1 year of deployment (Clark and Edwards, 1999). Such statistics indicates that artificial coral reefs are effective tools for rehabilitation, but do they really promote the return of the original community?

Research Question:

Are artificial reefs more or less habitable than natural reefs?


Artificial reefs are less habitable than natural reefs, based on the abundance of some key fish species.

Go here to see my complete project Artificial Reefs vs Natural Reefs: Which are More Habitable?


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