Ursidae: The Undergraduate Research Journal at the University of Northern Colorado

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Ginger Fisher

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The size and diversity of molluscs on and in front of artificial and natural sea walls in the tropical rocky intertidal of South Water Caye, Belize were investigated with the intent of determining the suitability of artificial surfaces to replace natural seawalls. Four seawalls, three artificial and one natural, were observed over a period of eight days. Mollusc size did not change based on distance from the wall for any of the walls. However, there were some significant differences in the species and number of molluscs in front of each wall as well as on the walls themselves. Measures of species richness, the Shannon diversity index and Jaccard’s index indicated that the natural wall species assemblage was quite different from that of the artificial walls. For the different types of artificial walls, it was clear that wall structure and age play a role in the number and diversity of molluscs on each wall. This case study has thus revealed that greater attention needs to be dedicated to the architecture and engineering of artificial seawalls in order to minimize their impact on the diversity of molluscs in the marine ecosystem.

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