Laura Chu - LSAMP Student for Dr. Kelly Clark

Colorado State University, Boulder, CO


In many places in the Rhode River, riprap (medium to large rocks) is put down to prevent the shoreline from eroding.  Changes in shoreline type have the potential to alter the associated animal community.  There are two ways landowners can install riprap:  revetments and breakwaters.  Revetments are made up of rocks lining the shore, while breakwaters jut farther out into the water and are often filled with marsh grass.  Because of these physical differences, it is possible that the differences in layout create different habitats, which are occupied by different types of organisms. In the past, no one has studied the animals attached to the riprap. However, sampling the entire associated animal community is vital in order to understanding the ecology each type of riprap habitat.  In this project, I focused on characterizing the diversity and abundance of organisms found in the two habitats, and the added filtration effects of the mussel, (I. recurvum), found on the riprap.  I also compared the rate of shrimp predation between riprap habitats. 

            While there is little difference in diversity between riprap habitats, the rate of predation inside the breakwaters is much lower than outside the breakwater or at a revetment.  One of the physical differences between the two types of habitat is that the breakwaters tend to be in deeper water than the revetments, this difference is responsible for most of the variation between habitat types.  The results of this project may help landowners installing riprap decide which type of layout to use by making them better informed about the ecological consequences for both types of riprap habitats.

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