It is widely recognised that coastal-defence structures generally affect the structure of the assemblages they support, yet their impact on adjacent systems has been largely ignored. Breakwaters modify the nearby physical environment (e.g. wave action) suggesting a local impact on biological parameters. In the present study, an ACI (After-Control-Impact) design was used to test the general hypothesis that the artificial sheltering of an exposed coast has a strong effect on the structure and functioning of adjacent systems. The effects of a reduction in hydrodynamics were clear for a number of taxa and included the replacement of barnacles, limpets and frondose algae by an increasing cover of ephemeral algae. These effects were evident both at early and late successional stages. Results suggest that the artificial sheltering of naturally exposed coasts can have a strong impact promoting a shift from consumer- to producer-dominated communities, which has important ecological and energetic consequences for the ecosystem. © 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
- ACI (After-Control-Impact) design
- Benthic assemblages
- Environmental impact
- Sea defence structure