Increasing Use of Human-Dominated Habitats as CO2 Emissions Warm and Acidify Oceans

Katherine A. Heldt, Sean D. Connell, Pablo Munguia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Urban and artificial structures are increasingly added to the world’s coasts during a time in which changing climate is forecast to drive shifts in naturally occurring habitats. We ask whether the role of artificial structures as marine habitats will increase in importance relative to their natural counterparts, particularly as natural habitats are negatively affected by ocean warming and acidification. To evaluate this model, we contrasted use of natural (kelp forest and turfing algae) and artificial habitat (plastic pier-piling) by a nest-building amphipod (Cymadusa pemptos) under current and future climate conditions of CO2 and temperature. Under future conditions, amphipod populations in mesocosms increased, but this did not lead to greater proportional colonization of kelp and turf. Instead, colonization doubled in artificial habitats, and there was increasing production and occupation of nests on artificial habitats relative to natural habitats. In an age when human modification of natural substrata is increasingly cited as an agent of wildlife decline, understanding the future role of artificial habitats as replacement dwellings for natural habitats is critical. We pioneer an understanding of the future role of natural and artificial habitats, identifying the possibility that the role of urban structures as marine habitats may only increase.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1660-1666
Number of pages7
JournalEstuaries and Coasts
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Artificial habitat
  • Climate change
  • Kelp forest
  • Nest-building amphipods
  • Urban habitat
  • Urban structures


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