Long-term Colonization Of A Subarctic Artificial Reef System In Whittier, Alaska Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/undergraduate_thesis_or_projects/b5644s86w

Presented at the American Academy of Underwater Science annual conference in Providence, RI

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  • Over half of the U.S. coastline is found in Alaska, and the majority of the state’s economic activity occurs along the coast. Increased coastal development poses a potential threat to nearshore habitats in Alaska. The installation of artificial reef (AR) systems can mitigate habitat loss; however, few AR systems have been evaluated in high latitude marine environments. Studies conducted in tropical or temperate marine environments may not be applicable to high latitudes, since AR systems are heavily influenced by ecological factors specific to the environment. After the 2006 deployment of Alaska’s first AR system, composed of two different reef structures in Whittier, Alaska, a 2007 study determined that initial AR fish utilization resembled natural reefs. However, only one of two reef-types was colonized by macroalgae, specifically Laminaria saccharina, while natural reefs were predominantly covered by Agarum clatharatum. The second reef-type remained predominantly uncolonized after 1 year. Successional surveying is necessary to identify shifts in community composition and colonization over time. This study will conduct surveys of the AR system in Whittier to quantitatively compare how the artificial reef community structure changed a decade after the initial survey and identify any differences in the community structure between the two AR reef-types types deployed. Two dive surveys will be conducted each month from June-November, 2016. Fish assemblages will be recorded by in-situ diver observations along 30 m circular transects including 1 m on each side, standardized to 60 m2 for each plot. Macroalgal and sessile invertebrate assemblages will be randomly sampled by in-situ diver observations and digital photos with 0.25 m2 quadrats per plot. Density will be calculated as abundance per m2 for each species observed. The initial results from these surveys will be presented.
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