Reefs made from culled trees can help kickstart sea life in threatened waters
One of many tree-reefs after 5 months within the Wadden Sea. Credit score: Jon Dickson


Reefs, whether or not pure or man-made, are hotspots of marine biodiversity. However particularly in soft-bottomed seas, reefs have turn into scarce as a result of many exhausting substrates have been eliminated on account of overfishing of shellfish, dredging, trawling, and deep-sea mining. How can we restore this misplaced biodiversity, as inspired by the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (2021–2030) and the EU Biodiversity Technique?

Now, researchers have proven that culled fruit timber sunk into the ocean are an inexpensive and efficient method to recreate reefs and enhance the native variety and abundance of marine life. The research, revealed in Frontiers in Marine Science, was carried out within the Wadden Sea, a UNESCO World Heritage Web site and the most important tidal flats system on the planet.

“Right here we present that native marine biodiversity might be restored in a extremely degraded ecosystem just like the Dutch Wadden Sea by utilizing timber as reefs,” stated Jon Dickson, the research´s lead writer and a Ph.D. candidate on the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Analysis.

“Earlier than people domesticated the panorama with agriculture, logging, and river controls, timber fell into rivers in massive numbers and had been washed out to sea. We all know that such sunken wooden has been current in marine ecosystems for the reason that Jurassic, offering a house, shelter, and meals for marine animals.”

Reefs made from culled trees can help kickstart sea life in threatened waters
Overgrown tree-reef hoisted onto a ship. Credit score: Jon Dickson

Culled pear timber


In April 2022, Dickson and a staff of researchers constructed 32 pyramid-like buildings from 192 felled pear timber previous their financial lifespan, and transported these by ship to open waters between the Dutch barrier islands Texel and Vlieland. There, the ‘tree-reefs’ had been rooted in concrete ft and sunk to the tender sea backside at 4 totally different places, roughly three to 4 meters deep.

4 months later, they had been briefly raised onto a ship, to permit the researchers to depend the variety of totally different species of sessile organisms on them, for instance shellfish, algae, or polyps. They had been changed on the ocean backside and allowed to build up extra biodiversity for an extra two months.

Then, three fish traps had been lowered round every reef block, in addition to close by management websites and retrieved 24 hours later. All fish and crustaceans within the traps had been counted and measured, with their species recognized, earlier than being launched unhurt.

Reefs made from culled trees can help kickstart sea life in threatened waters
Overgrown tree-reef being examined on board after 5 months within the Wadden Sea. Credit score: Jon Dickson

‘Profusion’ of marine animals

“Inside six months, the tree-reefs had been coated in a profusion of sessile animals and algae, and residential to extra fish than surrounding management areas,” stated Dickson.

In whole, the researchers discovered 15 species of sessile organisms: predominantly barnacles and hydroid polyps, whereas bryozoa, sea grapes, sea lettuce, and sea stars had been additionally discovered. Every of those taxa tended to focus on a unique vary of heights measured from the ocean backside.

Inside tree-reef websites, six species of fish (resembling whiting-pout, widespread goby, and European eel) and 4 of crustaceans had been caught, in comparison with solely two species of fish and 5 of crustaceans inside management websites, roughly 200 meters away. The abundance was likewise higher inside the tree-reef websites: for instance, 5.1 instances extra people of the dominant species five-bearded rockling had been caught there than in management websites.

Fast colonization

“Present findings spotlight that preliminary colonization of pure tree-reefs is speedy and recommend that restoration of communities related to woody substrates could also be doable by energetic restoration,” concluded the authors.

“Since we now have carried out our experiment solely in a single sea, we do not but know the way tree-reefs would carry out off the coast of different continents. Additionally, how lengthy will they operate as reefs as they biodegrade? What species will dwell in, on, and round them in the long term? These are questions we have to reply,” stated Dickson.

Extra data:
Who lives in a pear tree underneath the ocean? A primary have a look at Tree Reefs as a fancy pure biodegradable construction to reinforce biodiversity in marine techniques. Frontiers in Marine Science. DOI: 10.3389/fmars.2023.1213790

Culled fruit timber sunk into the Wadden Sea enhance native variety and abundance of marine life (2023, August 25)
retrieved 25 August 2023

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