Date of Award

Summer 2013

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Coastal Science, Gulf Coast Research Laboratory

Committee Chair

Patrick Biber

Committee Chair Department

Coastal Sciences, Gulf Coast Research Laboratory

Committee Member 2

Chet Rakocinski

Committee Member 2 Department

Coastal Sciences, Gulf Coast Research Laboratory

Committee Member 3

Kevin Dillon


The use of artificial reefs as a coastal management tool has become increasingly popular worldwide. The Mississippi Sound has 67 inshore artificial reefs sites, the main goal of which is to increase the production of economically and recreationally important fish, such as speckled trout, white trout, redfish, and black drum. The success of artificial reefs in meeting this goal depends in part on the quantity of primary and secondary production available on or near the reefs to support a reef-based food web. The objective of this study was to estimate phycoperiphyton net primary production and chlorophyll concentration on four artificial reefs in Mississippi Sound, using settlement plate arrays as proxies for the reef community. The aim of this study was to provide some insight into the value of artificial reefs in increasing benthic primary production in this highly turbid, soft-bottomed lagoon. Primary productivity and chlorophyll a were also measured for water samples to assess the contribution of phytoplankton to local primary production. Average reef phycoperiphyton net productivity estimates were negative suggesting that the reefs were net heterotrophic during the time of the study. However, phytoplankton production near the reefs was large enough to compensate for the negative benthic production, resulting in fairly large positive net habitat production estimates. Secondary production by filter-feeding invertebrates on the reefs is a potentially important mechanism by which phytoplankton primary production is incorporated into benthic biomass and made available to higher trophic level consumers, including the target fish species with which fisheries managers on the Gulf coast are concerned.