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Annual Colonization Experiment



NSF grant – DEB10-50694. 60 months, 1/1/2011 to 12/31/2020. LTREB: Ecosystem response to climate change: role of ecological subsidies and species interactions.  Oregon State University

Started in August 2009 called Annual Recruitment, in 2011 became Annual Colonization Experiment by increasing the plots and removing specific players to observe the effects of settlement patterns in differing community structures.

This experiment is to quantify the strength of facilitation, competition, and predation, as well as assess the percent cover of barnacles, mussels, different invertebrates and algae that have accumulated over the year in experiment plots.

Sites: Fogarty Creek, Boiler Bay, Yachats Beach, Strawberry Hill, Cape Blanco, Rocky Point

Replicates per Site: 5 (Each replicate has a different color marker, same as plates and tuffies, red = 1, orange = 2, yellow = 3, green = 4, blue = 5 for ease of monitoring)

 5 plots for each replicate:

  • -Marked plot (mp)
  • -Fence control (fc)
  • -Cage control (cg), has three zip ties on cage and a labeled washer with just the rep number on it.
  • -Cage with barnacles removed (barnacle), has one zip tie on cage and a labeled washer with rep number and ‘–C’ on it, for remove Cirripeds.
  • -Cage with mussels removed (mussel), has two zip ties on cage and a labeled washer with rep number and ‘-M’ on it, for remove Mussels.

Materials: Camera with underwater case, mini pliers, mini crow bar, blue 15 cm ruler, to Restart Project (spinners with 7/16” socket, crowbars, scrapers, wire brushes, lag screws, washers, anchors, drill and batteries, drill bits, and hole punches.


  • Plots are placed in the mid zone, near plates and tuffies.
  • Each plot is 15cm x 15cm, and is cleared to bare rock at the beginning of the experiment, sometime in April or May.
  • The marked plots are 15cm x 15cm, marked with lag screws.
  • The fence is a wire mesh control and has wire mesh on 2 sides.
  • The cages are used to exclude predators. It has four sides, a 2 cm lip facing out.


  • The plots are monitored every tide series, with all predators removed in cages plots, barnacles removed in the –C plots and mussels removed in the –M plots
  • Take photos of each plot with ruler as a proxy for distance after plot has been monitored
  • The cages should be cleaned when fouled.


  • In September or October this project should be removed at all sites
  • In the lab, bags to collect biomass are labeled with “ACE Biomass, Site, Treatment, and Date” for all treatments and sites.
  • In the field biomass (everything that has grown and is attached to the bare rock within the 15x15 cm plot) for all plots is collected. 
  • Cages and fences are pulled up and brought back to the lab.  Lag screws and washers should be left in field to mark plots for redeployment in the spring.

In Lab:

Photo Dowloading and Labeling 

Photo Analysis