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Artificial rockpools: Seaweed colonisation and productivity vary between sites but are consistent across environmental contexts

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Pip MooreORCiD



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of an article that has been published in its final definitive form by Elsevier Ltd, 2023.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


© 2023. Artificial structures are widespread features of coastal environments, but are poor surrogates of natural rocky shores because they generally support depauperate assemblages with reduced population sizes. This has generated significant interest in eco-engineering solutions, including retrofitting seawalls with artificial rockpools to increase water retention and provide microhabitats. Although these have proven effective at individual sites, widespread uptake is contingent on evidence of consistent benefits across a range of contexts. In this study, Vertipools™ were retrofitted on eight seawalls in different environmental contexts (urban v rural and estuarine v marine) along the Irish Sea coastline and were monitored regularly for two years. Seaweed colonisation proceeded in a manner similar to patterns described for natural and artificial intertidal systems in general, consisting of early dominance by ephemeral species followed by the appearance and eventual establishment of perennial habitat-formers. After 24 months, species richness did not differ between contexts, but differed between sites. The units supported populations of large habitat-forming seaweeds at all sites. Productivity and community respiration of the colonising communities differed between sites by up to 0.5 mg O2 L−1 min−1, but not across environmental contexts. This study demonstrates that bolt-on rockpools attract similar levels of biotic colonisation and functioning in a variety of temperate environmental contexts, and could be considered for widespread implementation as an eco-engineering solution.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Farrugia Drakard V, Evans AJ, Crowe TP, Moore PJ, Coughlan J, Brooks PR

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Marine Environmental Research

Year: 2023

Volume: 188

Print publication date: 01/06/2023

Online publication date: 11/05/2023

Acceptance date: 10/05/2023

Date deposited: 16/06/2023

ISSN (print): 0141-1136

ISSN (electronic): 1879-0291

Publisher: Elsevier Ltd


DOI: 10.1016/j.marenvres.2023.106022

ePrints DOI: 10.57711/7btj-9s13


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