Drill-cored rock pools: An effective method of ecological enhancement on artificial structures

Ally J. Evans, Louise B. Firth, Stephen J. Hawkins, Elisabeth S. Morris, Harry Goudge, Pippa J. Moore

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Coastal defences are proliferating in response to anticipated climate change and there is increasing need for ecologically sensitive design in their construction. Typically, these structures support lower biodiversity than natural rocky shores. Although several studies have tested habitat enhancement interventions that incorporate novel water-retaining features into coastal defences, there remains a need for additional long-term, fully replicated trials to identify alternative cost-effective designs. We created artificial rock pools of two depths (12 cm, 5 cm) by drill-coring into a shore-parallel intertidal granite breakwater, to investigate their potential as an intervention for delivering ecological enhancement. After 18 months the artificial rock pools supported greater species richness than adjacent granite rock surfaces on the breakwater, and similar species richness to natural rock pools on nearby rocky shores. Community composition was, however, different between artificial and natural pools. The depth of artificial rock pools did not affect richness or community structure. Although the novel habitats did not support the same communities as natural rock pools, they clearly provided important habitat for several species that were otherwise absent at mid-shore height on the breakwater. These findings reveal the potential of drill-cored rock pools as an affordable and easily replicated means of enhancing biodiversity on a variety of coastal defence structures, both at the design stage and retrospectively.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123-130
JournalMarine and Freshwater Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jul 2015


  • coastal protection
  • complexity
  • conservation
  • ecological engineering
  • management
  • urban ecology


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