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Urban marine ecology in southern California: the ability of riprap structures to serve as rocky intertidal habitat
Pister, B. (2009). Urban marine ecology in southern California: the ability of riprap structures to serve as rocky intertidal habitat. Mar. Biol. (Berl.) 156(5): 861-873.
In: Marine Biology. Springer: Heidelberg; Berlin. ISSN 0025-3162, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Pister, B.

    Increasing human populations along marine coastlines has lead to increasing urbanization of the marine environment. Despite decades of investigations on terrestrial ecosystems, the effect of urbanization on marine life is not well understood. Riprap is the rocky rubble used to build jetties, breakwaters, and armored shorelines. Roughly 30% of the southern California shoreline supports some form of riprap, while 29% of the shoreline is natural rocky substrate. Astonishingly few studies have investigated this anthropogenic rocky habitat even though it rivals a natural habitat in area on a regional scale along a coastline that has been extensively studied. In this study, I compared the diversity and community structure of exposed rocky intertidal communities on four riprap and four natural sites in southern California. I ask the following questions: (1) does diversity or community composition differ between intertidal communities on riprap and natural rocky habitats in southern California, (2) if so, which organisms contribute to those differences, (3) which physical factors are contributing to these differences, and (4) do riprap habitats support higher abundances of invasive species than natural habitats? On average, riprap and natural rocky habitats in wave exposed environments in southern California did not differ from each other in diversity or community composition when considering the entire assemblage. However, when only mobile species were considered, they occurred in greater diversity on natural shores. These differences appear to be driven by wave exposure. The presence of invasive species was negligible in both natural and riprap habitats.

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