Fouling community

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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.

Environmental impact[edit]

Positive impacts[edit]

Fouling communities are a part of a healthy aquatic system.

Fouling communities can help test the ecological effectiveness of artificial coral reefs.[1]

They can also improve water clarity when organisms in the fouling community are filter feeders. [2]

Negative impacts[edit]

Fouling communities can have a negative economic impact on humans, such as by damaging the bottom of boats.

It can, when attached to the bottoms of boats, bring invasive species to locations where there use to be none.[3]

Research history[edit]

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,[4] although this was later called into question by Connell and Sousa.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Jimenez, Carlos; Hadjioannou, Louis; Petrou, Antonis; Andreou, Vasilis; Georgiou, Andreas (2016-12-01). "Fouling Communities of Two Accidental Artificial Reefs (Modern Shipwrecks) in Cyprus (Levantine Sea)". Water. 9 (1): 11. doi:10.3390/w9010011. ISSN 2073-4441.
  2. ^ Layman, Craig (2014-04-24). "Dock Fouling Communities Improve Water Quality". Abaco Scientist. Retrieved 2021-03-16.
  3. ^ J.M., Drake; D.M., Lodge (2007). "Hull fouling is a risk factor for intercontinental species exchange in aquatic ecosystems". Aquatic Invasions. 2 (2): 121–131. doi:10.3391/ai.2007.2.2.7.
  4. ^ 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. S2CID 85014132.
  5. ^ 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. S2CID 85128118.

External links[edit]