- On 23rd March 2021
- In Ecology, Research and Development
- By Izaak
Exciting news! We have developed a novel Piling habitat design specified for deployment on traditional steel sheet piling. The aim of this hybrid nature-based solution (HNBS) is to encourage marine habitat development and increase species richness along and among existing grey infrastructure in the intertidal zone, such as marinas.
The designs consisted of 3D printed moulds into which a specialised mix of stabilised dredged material was cast, utilising our GeoBlock Technology.
The specification of the design featured a flat, surface textured rectangular base, into which habitat ‘cups’ were cast. These features are designed to enhance the heterogeneity of the surface and to trap water, to encourage the development of micro-niche marine rock pool habitats, biofilm development and overall biocolonisation.
It is also hoped that the habitat cups will introduce variable flow conditions, such as eddies, around the structure, to further enhance habitat diversity and promote the mixing of nutrients in the water column.
Two prototype piling habitats were installed in Brightlingsea marina in Summer 2020, using a custom made steel frame. Initial monitoring in December 2020, showed a film of aqueous alga covering the textured surface with all habitat cups filled with tidal mud. Initial investigation found these cups were being used by microbenthic organisms such as polychaeta. This indicates a positive first growing season with pioneer flora and higher trophic fauna present.
We will continue to monitor our piling habitats over the upcoming growing season for further colonisation, which will inform our understanding for future projects.
If you have a marina or harbour which needs livening up, get in contact with us about our piling habitats and other HNBS we can offer.
You can contact us via email (firstname.lastname@example.org), the form on our Contact Page or on any of our social media accounts! (Twitter, Facebook). Also, if you haven’t already, make sure you check out our YouTube channel and subscribe! We’re posting an array of videos from project updates to tutorials and more! Visit our YouTube channel here: Exo Environmental YouTube.