The population structure, sex ratio and reproductive potential of limpets (Patella spp.) on natural shores and artificial structures in the Irish Sea

Hannah S. Earp, Ruby George, Paul R. Brooks, Veronica Farrugia Drakard, Bryan J. Thompson, Benjamin Fisher, Róisín Hayden, Tasman P. Crowe, Pippa J. Moore

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Abstract

Artificial structures often support depauperate communities compared to natural rocky shores. Understanding variation in ecological success across shore types, particularly regarding habitat-forming species or those with structuring roles, is important to determine how artificial structure proliferation may influence ecosystem functioning and services. We investigated the population structure, sex ratio and reproductive potential of limpets on natural shores and artificial structures on Irish Sea coasts. Limpets were generally less abundant and Patella vulgata populations were often male dominated on artificial structures compared to natural shores, suggesting that shore type may influence these factors. P. vulgata length varied across sites within the Irish Sea (nested in coast and shore type) in autumn/winter, as well as temporally across sites along the Welsh coast. There was no difference in the proportion of P. vulgata in advanced stages of gonad development across shore types. The results suggest that rip-rap artificial structures may provide a habitat comparable to natural shores, however, the addition of ecological engineering interventions on artificial structures may allow limpet populations to better approximate those on natural shores.
Original languageEnglish
Article number105853
Number of pages13
JournalMarine Environmental Research
Volume184
Early online date28 Dec 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 01 Feb 2023

Keywords

  • Coastal defence
  • Coastal development
  • Demography
  • Gastropod
  • Marine management
  • Mollusc
  • Ocean sprawl
  • Reproduction
  • Rip-rap
  • Urbanization

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  • ECOSTRUCTURE

    Ironside, J.

    Interreg

    01 Mar 201730 Sept 2022

    Project: Externally funded research

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