Standard Presentation (15 mins) Australian Marine Sciences Association 2022

Rocky reef real estate: Getting native mussels into their forever home (#45)

Dayanitha Damodaran 1 2 , Oliver Floerl 2 , Marie Joo Le Guen 3 , Robert Whitton 3 , Sumanth Ranganathan 3 , Katherine Dafforn 1 , Paul South 2
  1. Natural Sciences, Macquarie University, Sydney, NSW, Australia
  2. Cawthron Institute, Nelson, New Zealand
  3. Scion Innovation, Rotorua, New Zealand

Coastlines are becoming increasingly urbanised with many complex natural habitats being replaced by uniform, artificial structures such as seawalls, which often favour invasive species over natives. The purpose of this study was to investigate whether replicating fine-scale topographies of natural rocky reefs could potentially benefit native habitat forming species in artificial environments. Using 3D scanning and 3D printing, we replicated the topography of different natural substrates from green-lipped mussel (Perna canaliculus) beds and assessed how juvenile mussels interacted with them. Specifically, we created 3D models of 3 different substrate types (rock, mussels on rock and a flat control) and introduced juvenile mussels (2 – 10 mm) onto the models in mesocosms. The locations of mussels were recorded after 24 hours. Preferences for substrate topographies, clumping patterns, and migratory behaviour in the juvenile mussels were tested in relation to the surface complexity of the 3D models. The results of this study will inform artificial habitat design with the overall goal of increasing native biodiversity and abundance in artificial habitats.