Marine Biology

, Volume 159, Issue 12, pp 2797–2807 | Cite as

Do artificial structures alter marine invertebrate genetic makeup?

  • Cécile Fauvelot
  • Federica Costantini
  • Massimiliano Virgilio
  • Marco Abbiati
Original Paper


Human-made structures are increasingly built in marine coastal habitats for a variety of purposes. Offshore oil and gas production platforms are among the largest examples. Yet, biological effects of these increasing density artificial substrata are under evaluated. The objective of our study is to investigate the possible role of offshore platforms in modifying the genetic composition of populations of natural rocky shores species. The serpulid Pomatoceros triqueter was used as a model, and genetic variation was assessed using a 419 bp fragment of the mtDNA COI gene in samples collected on eleven offshore gas platforms, on one coastal buoy on the sandy shore and in four sites located on natural rocky shores in the Adriatic Sea. Deep phylogenetic lineages were uncovered over all samples. Nucleotide diversity and mean number of pairwise differences among haplotypes were significantly smaller in offshore platform samples compared to rocky shores samples. No significant genetic structure was observed over all samples. We found direct evidence of lower genetic diversity on platforms confirming that, although artificial structures attract and support species typical of hard bottoms, they are not analogues of natural rocky habitats.


Last Glacial Maximum Cetyltrimethyl Ammonium Bromide Artificial Structure Offshore Platform Minimum Span Network 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This work was supported by the EU project EUMAR (European Marine Genetic Biodiversity—EVK3CT2001-00048) and by the AGIP funded research project BIOMARE (Project for the development of methodologies for monitoring the impact of off-shore structures in the northern Adriatic). We thank M. Pierpaoli for assistance in the lab. We are grateful to the Cooperative Society ‘La Romagnola’ (Marina di Ravenna) and to all the people that helped collecting samples.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cécile Fauvelot
    • 1
    • 2
  • Federica Costantini
    • 1
  • Massimiliano Virgilio
    • 3
    • 4
  • Marco Abbiati
    • 1
    • 5
  1. 1.Dipartimento di Biologia Evoluzionistica Sperimentale, Centro Interdipartimentale di Ricerca per le Scienze AmbientaliUniversity of BolognaRavennaItaly
  2. 2.Institut de Recherche pour le Développement, UR227, DYNECAR, EA 926, Laboratoire de Biologie MarineUniversité des Antilles et de la GuyanePointe-à-Pitre cedexGuadeloupe
  3. 3.Royal Belgian Institute of Natural SciencesBrusselsBelgium
  4. 4.Royal Museum for Central AfricaTervurenBelgium
  5. 5.ISMAR CNRBolognaItaly

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