HCNSO Student Theses and Dissertations

Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

M.S. Biological Sciences

Second Degree Name

M.S. Marine Environmental Sciences

First Advisor

Amy Hirons

Second Advisor

David Kerstetter

Third Advisor

Christopher Blanar


Artificial reefs may enhance the biological production of reef-associated flora and fauna, but their trophic structure relative to that of natural reefs remains understudied. We assessed trophic dynamics by comparing δ13C and δ15N in 43 fish species from artificial and natural reef tracts of Broward County, Florida. We tested the effect of sampling location (artificial, first, and second reef), general feeding strategy (herbivore, omnivore, planktivore, invertivore, and carnivore), phylogeny, and standard length. For all samples, δ13C and δ15N ranged from -19.5 to -13.1‰ and 6.7 to 13.3‰, respectively. Lower trophic level feeding behavior resulted in more depleted δ13C and δ15N and higher trophic level feeding behavior resulted in more enriched δ13C and δ15N. We detected significant effects of both general feeding strategy and phylogeny. We also detected significant differences in δ13C and δ15N profiles between artificial and natural reefs; however, these differences were not great enough to suggest changes in the feeding strategy or trophic dynamics of individual fish taxa.