Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 2011

Publication Title

Journal of Coastal Research


Coast, Ecosystem services, Mitigation, Artificial habitat






Special Issue 61

First Page


Last Page



The oceans incorporate three-quarters of the Earth's surface, and most of humanity lives in coastal regions. For example, more than half of the total U.S. population presently lives in coastal areas, and the coastal population is projected to increase by 7 million between now and 2015. Similar projections can be made for other developed countries many of which depend on the coastal zone as a major source of tourism-related income. The long-term ecological health and sustainability of the marine and coastal environments are obviously at risk. Coastal projects such as beach re-nourishment, housing developments, and pipe-line, harbor and marina construction can have negative impacts on the coastal environment that must be minimized and often mitigated. Typically, mitigation is done after the fact at considerable expense and often with a questionable return of ecosystem services. However, multiple research projects clearly show that species-specific and lifestage-specific habitat can be designed into artificial structure. Thus, with forethought, coastal construction can include structural designs that are not only ecosystem friendly but which also return ecosystem services impacted by construction. Structure incorporating fish and invertebrate habitat can often be integrated up front at little or no extra construction cost. This paper discusses the results of some of the artificial habitat research as well as recent examples of coastal construction and design that have incorporated these findings.


©Coastal Education and Research Foundation 2011