Date of Award
Master of Science (MS)
Ocean, Coastal, and Earth Sciences
Dr. David Hicks
Dr. Erin Easton
Dr. John Breier
Artificial reef research has long concerned itself with the interactions of fishes and has tended to favor commercially valuable species. Because of this, a larger yet less known group that heavily benefits fishes have been overlooked; benthic macrofauna. Benthic macrofauna are marine invertebrates that live below the sediment-water interface and play many roles in the ecosystem. Macrofauna are important prey items, ecosystem engineers, and bioindicators, as well as being ubiquitous in the marine environment. Since macrofauna have been largely ignored in this field, not much is known regarding their interaction with the placement of artificial reefs. To try and fill this gap in knowledge, the following study assessed how macrofauna communities vary at distance from three different artificial reefs in south Texas. Of the sediment variables analyzed (carbon, nitrogen, grain size) none showed a significant change with distance from reefs. Overall macrofauna communities did not show significant differences with distance at any reef. Abundances of macrofauna were significantly lower closer to one reef, and this trend was evident across all reefs, although not significant. This observation along with the fact that fishes were more abundant closer to reefs highlights the importance of further investigation of feeding halos around artificial reefs using exclusion cages.
Faircloth, Douglas, "Evaluating Responses of Benthic Macrofauna to Artificial Reef Presence in the Gulf of Mexico" (2019). Theses and Dissertations. 452.