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The Benefits of Biofouling: Promoting the Growth of Benthic Organisms to Enhance Ecosystem Services
 
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Department of Ocean Engineering and Marine Science, Florida Institute of Technology, University Blvd, Melbourne, United States
 
 
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Kailey Nicole Richard   

Department of Ocean Engineering and Marine Science, Florida Institute of Technology, University Blvd, Melbourne, United States
 
 
J. Ecol. Eng. 2024; 25(9)
 
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ABSTRACT
For the marine industry biofouling has a negative reputation. On ship hulls, the accumulation of these unwanted plants and animals can lead to increased drag, fuel consumption, and greenhouse gas emissions. Offshore platforms are also subject to biofouling which can result in corrosion and hydrodynamic loading, thus shortening their lifespan. While the harmful impacts of biofouling are commonly reported throughout the literature, biofouling can also benefit both aquatic and human populations. Common biofouling organisms act as natural filtration systems, thus improving water quality. Many of the same flora and fauna serve as a food source, and structures could be designed to lessen the impacts of fouling on hydrodynamic forces. In addition, microfouling species commonly found in biofilms have the potential to be harnessed as biofuel sources and can be a component of the carbon cycle. The following review discusses the benefits of biofouling and why ecological engineering initiatives may aid in ecosystem restoration versus the use of antifouling techniques for preventative growth.
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