Date of Award

Summer 8-2016

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Coastal Sciences, Gulf Coast Research Laboratory

Committee Chair

Chester Rakocinski

Committee Chair Department

Coastal Sciences, Gulf Coast Research Laboratory

Committee Member 2

Mark S. Peterson

Committee Member 2 Department

Coastal Sciences, Gulf Coast Research Laboratory

Committee Member 3

Sara LeCroy

Committee Member 3 Department

Coastal Sciences, Gulf Coast Research Laboratory


In recent years, the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources (DMR) has made a concerted effort to enhance its coastal fishery resources by creating artificial reefs. Through this effort, 73 nearshore reefs have been created across the MS coast. Different substrate types used to construct MS artificial reefs include oyster shell and cement rubble. Two types of reef architecture used include high profile breakwater and low profile submerged structures. This study compared the benthic biota associated with oyster shell and cement rubble substrates among four artificial reefs representing high and low profile structures in summer 2011. Colonized benthic biota were quantified from four pairs of substrate baskets containing oyster shell or cement rubble that were submersed for six weeks at each reef. Split-plot ANOVA between substrate type (within-subject) and profile type (between-subject) for several functional metrics, including production potential, showed no significant differences. However, species-specific split-plot ANOVAs, unveiled several individual taxa had significantly different production and/or biomass between profile types and/or substrate types not apparent in the cumulative tests. Although some taxa failed the homogeneity of variance assumption, paired substrates for those taxa were pooled and tested using a one-way ANOVA interpreted using Welch’s test unveiling several taxa having significant differences in biomass and production between profiles. MDS plots illustrate differences in ordination space among substrate types and profile types. PERMANOVA found significant differences in community similarity between high and low profile structures. SIMPER further disclosed how the abundances of multiple taxa drove dissimilarity values between reef profile types and substrates.