EWN Publications

Evidence on the ecological and physical effects of built structures in shallow, tropical coral reefs: a systematic map

Avery B. Paxton, Iris R. Foxfoot, Christina Cutshaw, D'amy N. Steward, Leanne Poussard, Trevor N. Riley, Todd M. Swannack, Candice D. Piercy, Safra Altman, Brandon J. Puckett, Curt D. Storlazzi, and T. Shay Viehman
May 15, 2024

About This Publication

Shallow, tropical coral reefs face compounding threats from climate change, habitat degradation due to coastal development and pollution, impacts from storms and sea-level rise, and pulse disturbances like blast fishing, mining, dredging, and ship groundings that reduce reef height and complexity. One approach toward restoring coral reef physical structure from such impacts is deploying built structures of artificial, natural, or hybrid (both artificial and natural) origin. Built structures range from designed modules and repurposed materials to underwater sculptures and intentionally placed natural rocks. Restoration practitioners and coastal managers increasingly consider incorporating – and in many cases have already begun to incorporate – built structures into coral reef-related applications, yet synthesized evidence on the ecological (coral-related; e.g., coral growth, coral survival) and physical performance of built structures in coral ecosystems across a variety of contexts (e.g., restoration, coastal protection, mitigation, tourism) is not readily available to guide decisions. To help fill this gap and inform management decisions, we systematically mapped the global distribution and abundance of published evidence on the ecological (coral-related) and physical performance of built structure interventions in shallow (≤ 30 m), tropical (35°N to 35°S) coral ecosystems.

Research Projects

This project will develop a modeling tool and guidance documents for forecasting long term coral reef dynamics as a Natural and Nature Based Feature (NNBF). The project will help promote the design and implementation ...