ONNA RESEARCH + DESIGN
DELFT, NL | WORLDWIDE
ECOLOGICAL COMMUNITIES ON SHORELINE INFRASTRUCTURE
Three tidally-influenced and heavy industrial locations within Boston Harbor were selected for intertidal community sampling and characterization. Kayak surveys of bulkhead sites approximated the identity and development of an epibiotic invertebrate and algal community over the course of a field season in 2018.
INFRASTRUCTURE AS HABITAT.
Shoreline infrastructure, such as bulkheads, seawalls, piers and pilings, is a ubiquitous feature along urban coasts worldwide. In contrast with historic ecosystems such as salt marsh or rocky intertidal zones, infrastructure supplies comparatively limited habitat value, preventing the settlement and survival of some species while supporting communities of others. Physical structures interrupt coastal processes and are associated with widespread biodiversity loss, compounded by degraded environmental quality in many urban coastal waters. Functional ecosystems are a basis for human survival, providing valuable services from water quality maintenance to fisheries productivity to carbon dioxide sequestration. Due to the prevalence and permanence of shoreline infrastructure in highly developed urban zones, scientists + engineers are seeking strategies for retrofitting or designing it in order to support intertidal ecosystems. Baseline data on the structure of present-day ecological communities on infrastructure is needed to inform these initiatives.
Globally, bulkheads are comprised of a relatively limited suite of materials. The thermal properties of these materials affect the potential for species' to settle and survive, according to their tolerance limits. This study included a thermal component to measure relative heat capacity of common infrastructure types in Boston Inner Harbor.