Macrobenthic colonisation of artificial reefs on the southern coast of Portugal (Ancão, Algarve)

Diana Boaventura*, Ana Moura, Francisco Leitão, Susana Carvalho, João Cúrdia, Paula Pereira, Luís Cancela Da Fonseca, Miguel Neves Dos Santos, Carlos Costa Monteiro

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Artificial reef systems play an important role in the increase of natural production of biological marine resources and they have been deployed worldwide. In Portugal, seven artificial systems have been deployed along the southern coast of the Algarve. Research to date has focussed mainly on fish populations, particularly those of economical importance. The present work aims to study the macrobenthic communities of the artificial reef structures, as these will enhance the food resources and shelter, making the reefs more attractive to fish. In particular, we experimentally analysed the sequence of colonisation of macrobenthic communities of the Ancão artificial reef system, which was deployed in the summer of 2002. The study of the colonisation of benthic communities was done using samples of concrete cubic units (15 x 15 cm) that were suspended at the reef modules at a depth of 20 m, at the time of the reef immersion. Four replicate samples were collected by SCUBA diving from two groups of the Ancão reef every three months from the starting date. Sampling was done using essentially non-destructive methods to assess the percentage cover of macrobenthic organisms in both vertical and horizontal surfaces. The percentage cover of the taxonomic groups was compared within the different surfaces of the samples and between the two reef groups. The bottom surface of cubic samples had a significantly higher colonisation related to the dominance of barnacle cover, probably due to lower sedimentation levels. Samples from both reef groups showed a similar pattern of colonisation. Barnacles, bryozoans and serpulids dominated the samples three months immediately after the beginning of the experiment. Other invertebrates groups, such as Porifera, Hydrozoa, Anthozoa, other sessile Polychaeta, Decapoda, Gastropoda and Bivalvia, were more abundant after six months of colonisation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)335-343
Number of pages9
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Artificial reefs
  • Colonisation
  • Hard substrata
  • Macrobenthic communities
  • Portugal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science


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