Edge effects influence the composition and density of reef residents on subtidal restored oyster reefs
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Edge effects influence the composition and density of reef residents on subtidal restored oyster reefs

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  • Journal Title:
    Restoration Ecology
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    Within estuarine and coastal ecosystems globally, extensive habitat degradation and loss threaten critical ecosystem functions and necessitate widescale restoration efforts. There is abundant evidence that ecological processes and species interactions can vary with habitat characteristics, which has important implications for the design and implementation of restoration efforts aimed at enhancing specific ecosystem functions and services. We conducted an experiment examining how habitat characteristics (presence; edge vs. interior) influence the communities of resident fish and mobile invertebrates on restored oyster (Crassostrea virginica) reefs. Similar to previous studies, we found that restored reefs altered community composition and augmented total abundance and biomass relative to unstructured sand habitat. Community composition and biomass also differed between the edge and interior of individual reefs as a result of species‐specific patterns over small spatial scales. These patterns were only weakly linked to oyster density, suggesting that other factors that vary between edge and interior (e.g. predator access or species interactions) are likely more important for community structure on oyster reefs. Fine‐scale information on resident species' use of oyster reefs will help facilitate restoration by allowing decision makers to optimize the amount of edge versus interior habitat. To improve the prediction of faunal use and benefits from habitat restoration, we recommend investigations into the mechanisms shaping edge and interior preferences on oyster reefs.
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    Restoration Ecology, 31(1)
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