Fouling communities are communities of organisms found on artificial surfaces like the sides of docks, marinas, harbors, and boats. Settlement panels made from a variety of substances have been used to monitor settlement patterns and to examine several community processes (e.g., succession, recruitment, predation, competition, and invasion resistance). These communities are characterized by the presence of a variety of sessile organisms including ascidians, bryozoanns, mussels, tube building polychaetes, sea anemones, sponges, barnacles, and more. Common predators on and around fouling communities include small crabs, starfish, fish, limpets, chitons, other gastropods, and a variety of worms.
Fouling communities were highlighted particularly in the literature of marine ecology as a potential example of alternate stable states through the work of John Sutherland in the 1970s at Duke University, although this was later called into question by Connell and Sousa.