Fouling communities are communities of organisms found on artificial surfaces like the sides of docks, marinas, harbors, and boats. Settlement panels made from a variety of substances have been used to monitor settlement patterns and to examine several community processes (e.g., succession, recruitment, predation, competition, and invasion resistance). These communities are characterized by the presence of a variety of sessile organisms including ascidians, bryozoans, mussels, tube building polychaetes, sea anemones, sponges, barnacles, and more. Common predators on and around fouling communities include small crabs, starfish, fish, limpets, chitons, other gastropods, and a variety of worms.
Fouling communities follow a distinct succession pattern in a natural environment.
Fouling communities are a part of a healthy aquatic system.
Fouling communities can have a negative economic impact on humans, such as by damaging the bottom of boats.
Fouling communities were highlighted particularly in the literature of marine ecology as a potential example of alternate stable states through the work of John Sutherland in the 1970s at Duke University, although this was later called into question by Connell and Sousa.
- Sutherland, John P. (November–December 1974). "Multiple Stable Points in Natural Communities". The American Naturalist. 108 (964): 859–873. doi:10.1086/282961. JSTOR 2459615.
- Connell, Joseph H.; Sousa, Wayne P. (June 1983). "On the Evidence Needed to Judge Ecological Stability or Persistence". The American Naturalist. 121 (6): 789–824. doi:10.1086/284105. JSTOR 2460854.
- http://research.ncl.ac.uk/biofouling/ is the Newcastle University barnacle and biofouling information site.
- http://www.imo.org/en/OurWork/Environment/Biofouling/Pages/default.aspx is the International Maritime Organization information about biofouling which includes a comprehensive list of invasive species in the fouling community.
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