Marine Science Faculty Publications

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Benthos, Field experiment, Early life history, Predation, Logistics

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Biofouling of experimental cages and other field apparatuses can be problematic for scientists and has traditionally been addressed using frequent manual removal (e.g., scraping, scrubbing). Recent environmental restrictions and legislative changes have driven the development of less hazardous antifouling products, making antifouling paint a potential alternative option to manual removal. Consequently, the viability of using these newly developed products as a replacement for the manual cleaning of exclusion cages was experimentally investigated. There were six treatments tested, comprising three with settlement tiles in experimental cages coated with antifouling paint, two with settlement tiles in unpainted experimental cages, and one cage-free suspended tile. The three antifouling treatments comprised two reduced-copper paints (21% Cu2O and 40% Cu2O) and one copper-free, Econea (™)-based paint (labeled "ecofriendly"). Antifouling paints were assessed for performance of preventing fouling of the cages and whether they elicited local effects on settlement tiles contained within them. All three paints performed well to reduce fouling of the cages during the initial six weeks of the experiment, but the efficacy of "ecofriendly" paint began to decrease during an extended deployment that lasted 14 weeks. The macro-community composition, biomass, and percent cover of settled organism on tiles within cages treated with copper-based paints (21% and 40% concentrations) were indistinguishable from tiles within the manually scrubbed cages. In contrast, settlement to tiles from the "ecofriendly" treatment was different in composition of macro-community and lower in biomass, suggesting the presence of local effects and therefore rendering it unsuitable for use in settlement experiments. The results of this study suggest that reduced-copper paints have the potential to serve as an alternative to manual maintenance, which may be useful for deployments in locations that are difficult to access on a frequent schedule.

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PeerJ, v. 4, art. e2213

Sup1.pdf (151 kB)
Community composition raw data

Sup2.pdf (170 kB)
Biomass raw data

Sup3.pdf (168 kB)
Percent cover raw data