Decapod crustaceans associated with an artificial reef (Adriatic Sea)
The aim of this study is to increase the knowledge on the distribution of decapod crustaceans associated with an artificial reef positioned on sandy-mud bottoms in the central Adriatic Sea. The reef is constituted of concrete modules assembled in pyramids and concrete poles. Hard and soft bottom samples were collected from 2001, just after reef construction, to 2005 (4 surveys per year). Regarding the soft seabed, three sites close to a pyramid, three inside the reef area at a distance of 10-15 m from the structures, and three 200 m outside the reef (control sites) were randomly sampled during each survey. At the same time, three pyramids (vertical and horizontal walls) and three poles were also investigated. After taxonomical analysis, decapod crustaceans were analysed using abundance and species richness. Sites and years were compared using a balanced, fixed effect, 2-way ANOVA and PERMANOVA. In addition, SIMPER analysis was performed to identify those species typifying each community inhabiting both the soft bottom and the artificial substrates. The results showed that the artificial reef induced an increase in both abundance and diversity of the decapods of the natural habitat. In fact, man-made substrates may offer new available space for biological colonization and allow the settlement of new species usually living on hard bottoms, thus increasing the complexity of the original benthic communities.