Recruitment enhancement varies by taxonomic group and oyster reef habitat characteristics

Theresa M. Davenport, A. Randall Hughes, Philine Zu Ermgassen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The rapid loss of coastal and estuarine biogenic habitats has reduced the delivery of valuable ecosystem services, resulting in calls for increased habitat restoration. Yet, a lack of information on how key habitat characteristics (e.g., area, vertical relief, age) influence the ability of restored habitats to deliver these ecosystem services hinders efforts to maximize the return on restoration investments. We conducted a meta‐analysis to assess the influence of reef type (natural or restored), taxa, and restored reef size, vertical relief, age, and tidal zone on the presence and magnitude of recruitment enhancement for nekton (i.e., fish and swimming crabs). Both intertidal and subtidal reefs, as well as restored and natural reefs, enhanced nekton recruitment, though there was variation among taxonomic groups with reef types. Recruitment enhancement was more common across taxa on restored (six families) than on natural (one family) reefs. Resident nekton families were more consistently enhanced than transient families. Nekton enhancement varied with a number of restored reef characteristics. Recruitment enhancement increased with greater reef size across taxa, decreased with higher vertical relief for two families, showed maximum recruitment around a single intertidal reef age for one family, and showed minimum recruitment around a single subtidal reef age for three families. Understanding variation across species in response to key design elements will improve restoration success and enhance return on investment. Moving forward, we recommend studies that vary reef habitat characteristics independently and in combination to identify how variation in these characteristics interact to influence nekton recruitment enhancement by oyster reefs.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere02340
JournalEcological Applications
Early online date4 Apr 2021
Publication statusPublished - 4 May 2021


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