Urban Ecosystems

, Volume 20, Issue 1, pp 183–197 | Cite as

Spatial variability of epibiotic assemblages on marina pontoons in Singapore

  • Kok Ben Toh
  • Chin Soon Lionel Ng
  • Bokai Wu
  • Tai Chong Toh
  • Pei Rong Cheo
  • Karenne Tun
  • Loke Ming Chou


Berthing pontoons, one of the most ubiquitous structures in marinas, are known to provide recruitment substrate for a variety of marine biota but little has been reported on their capacity to support epibiotic organisms in tropical marinas, and even less is known about the factors that shape their distribution in such environments. We surveyed the epibiotic assemblages on the sides of pontoons in three Singapore marinas and examined the environmental conditions that influenced their distribution. A total of 94 taxa were recorded, with each marina hosting 43–65 taxa. Assemblages among marinas were highly distinct, and, key discriminants included components of biotic (alcyonarians, hexacorallians, bivalves, and annelids), as well as abiotic (sediment, bare area and shell fragments) origin. While the assemblage variation among marinas was influenced by local environmental conditions (e.g. water motion and sedimentation rate) and pontoon material, the variation in distribution within each marina was best explained by the distance of the pontoons from the marina’s entrance (epibiotic diversity and taxa richness were lower away from the marina entrance). Knowledge on the distribution of epibiotic assemblages on pontoons is essential to identify the factors that contribute to spatial variation and encourage the design and construction of ecologically-friendly marinas. Our findings suggest that improvements to pontoon design and layout would help to augment marina biodiversity, enhance the ecology of urbanised coasts, and mitigate development impacts.


Marina Artificial habitats Epibiota Distribution Tropics 



We are grateful to the management and staff of Marina at Keppel Bay, One15 Marina and Raffles Marina for supporting and facilitating the research. We thank Serina Lee and Lim Swee Cheng for their help in species idenfication. We also thank members of the Reef Ecology Laboratory, NUS, for all help rendered over the course of this study. This study was supported by the National Parks Board and the Technical Committee for the Coastal and Marine Environment (TCCME) (grant number R-154-000-557-490).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Tropical Marine Science InstituteNational University of SingaporeSingaporeSingapore
  2. 2.Department of Biological SciencesNational University of SingaporeSingaporeSingapore
  3. 3.National Parks Board SingaporeSingaporeSingapore

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