Quantifying the introductory impacts of an artificial reef on the nearshore community in Lake Michigan have not been made a priority in any experimental design. This project aims to mend this lack of understanding by combining biology and geology to create a new understanding of the effects of a newly constructed artificial reef (Rubble Ridges). This will be accomplished by observing the effects of sediment accumulation around a newly constructed artificial reef on benthic community diversity and growth. Sampling at the reef site will include sampling for invertebrates, encrusting organisms, and fish once a month during the sampling season. We will compare the trends from the Rubble Ridges site to the trends from the control site.
The objectives for this study are (1) to determine the difference in abundance and diversity of benthic organisms between the submerged shoreline stabilization structure site and the control site over a 2-year period, (2) to determine if the development of nearshore artificial reefs positively impact benthic communities in Southern Lake Michigan, and (3) to determine if benthic community diversity and abundance changes due to sediment accumulation and changes in sand grain size. We hypothesize that there will be an increase in abundance and diversity in benthic communities at the submerged shoreline stabilization structure site in comparison to the control site, that these artificial reefs will have a positive impact on the benthic communities in Southern Lake Michigan, and that sediment accumulation and larger sand grain size provide suitable habitat areas that will increase the diversity and abundance of the surrounding benthic community. Project managers and scientists can utilize this information in upcoming projects, whose intent is to prevent shoreline erosion, as a means to further understand this relationship.