Artificial reefs are man-made structures that are placed on the seabed to mimic natural reefs. The Loch Linnhe Artificial Reef will consist of up to 40 reef modules, when completed, each constructed using concrete blocks. As part of this complex, reef modules of approximately 200 tonnes were deployed in June 2001 and January 2002 and form the basis of this study. Sediment samples were taken adjacent to-, and 5 m from, the reef perimeters and characterised in terms of sediment oxygenation (redox), particle size, organic carbon (loss on ignition) and coarseness (material >1 mm and <5 mm). Changes in molluscs and ophiuroids (>1 mm) present in the sediment were linked to chemico-physical changes occurring as a consequence of the reef. Both reefs trapped macroalgal phytodetritus at the perimeters, which subsequently decomposed. This accumulated material isolated the seabed from the overlying water column and was associated with a decrease in sediment oxygenation that was linked to changes in community structure. Loss-on-ignition (LOI) was significantly higher around one reef compared with 5 m from that reef. The reefs did not cause significant changes in the sediment texture (median particle size or coarseness) and neither LOI nor sedimentary texture changes were associated with community change.
The benthic impacts of the Loch Linnhe Artificial Reef
Wilding, T. (2006). The benthic impacts of the Loch Linnhe Artificial Reef. Marine Biodiversity, 183, 345-353.