Why is this research important?

The value of biodiversity on coastal structures

The ecological and social value of intertidal habitats are widely appreciated they are extremely (biologically) productive environments and support communities with very high biodiversity. There is, however, growing concern that the structures we build at the coast for economic activities and/or for flood and erosion risk management do not support the same ecological communities as natural shores the habitat conditions they provide can be very different. Finding ways to improve the ecological value of artificial structures is therefore a research priority (see here for further information).

As well as helping to achieve biodiversity and conservations goals, recognising other potential benefits (or ecosystem services) of organisms on coastal structures is an important step if measures designed to encourage colonisation are to be more widely adopted. Bioprotection is one such potential benefit, but the involvement of organisms in the weathering and erosion of coastal rocks and engineering materials is poorly understood. Encouraging particular organisms to colonise structures through ecological enhancement may also enable more species to colonise as succession continues.