Shipbuilding Docks as Experimental Systems for Realistic Assessments of Anthropogenic Stressors on Marine Organisms

Rick Bruintjes, Harry Harding, Tom Bunce, Fiona Birch, Jessica Lister, Ilaria Spiga, Tom Benson, Kate Rossington, Diane Jones, Charles Tyler, Andy Radford, Steve Simpson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
286 Downloads (Pure)


Empirical investigations of the impacts of anthropogenic stressors on marine organisms are typically performed under controlled laboratory conditions, onshore mesocosms, or via offshore experiments with realistic (but uncontrolled) environmental variation. These approaches have merits, but onshore setups are generally small-sized and fail to recreate natural stressor-fields, whilst offshore studies are often compromised by confounding factors. We suggest the use of flooded shipbuilding docks to allow studying realistic exposure to stressors and their impacts on intra and interspecific responses of animals. Shipbuilding docks permit careful study of groups of known animals, including evaluation of their behavioral interactions, while enabling full control of the stressor and many environmental conditions. We propose that this approach could be used for assessing impacts of prominent anthropogenic stressors, including chemicals, ocean warming and sound. Results from shipbuilding-dock studies could allow improved parameterization of predictive models relating to environmental risks and population consequences of anthropogenic stressors.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)853-859
Number of pages7
Issue number9
Early online date1 Sept 2017
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2017


  • concept
  • ecosystem impacts
  • marine species
  • pollutant


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