The Ecostructure project is organised into nine different Work Packages (WPs). Below you’ll find information about the six original work packages that form the project. This year, we were granted a 2-year project extension to continue our work, and three new WPs will be added to the list below soon.
WP 1: Operation Leadership and Management
WP2: Ecological Condition of Coastal Structures
WP2 is mapping and characterising key features of artificial structures in the Irish Sea and the environmental contexts in which they are placed. This will enable identification of the features that are associated with minimal impacts on natural ecosystems that may also give rise to conservation and societal benefits. The team is also sampling biota to compare ecosystem patterns and processes on selected structures and nearby natural analogues.
WP3: Building-in Ecologically-Sensitive Design
WP4: Non-Native Species and Biosecurity
WP5: Society, Economy and Governance
WP6: Technology Transfer and Dissemination
WP7: Upscaling and Translation of Coastal Eco-engineering
WP8: Habitat Creation by Offshore Renewable Energy Developments
WP9: Artificial Habitats for Commercially Valuable Species
Work Package 9 will take aspects of WP2 and 3 to the subtidal environment, where we aim to create ecological enhancements suitable for post-larval and adult lobsters. WP9 will investigate the potential importance of offshore renewable energy structures to commercially important species, including lobster and brown crab. A combination of laboratory and field trials will examine behavior and habitat preferences of these species. We’ll be designing and building habitat units of differing shapes and sizes to place in the Irish Sea, then tagging and tracking individuals in situ using acoustic telemetry. We will also investigate the potential for eco-engineering to enhance the recreational value of coastal structures such as seawalls, harbor walls and jetties through making structures more attractive to fish species targeted by recreational anglers.
Can wind farms provide habitat for commercially important species?
Previous research has shown that offshore renewable energy structures can provide habitat for a number of pioneer species via their reef effects. Using acoustic telemetry, we will track a number of lobster and crab at a windfarm site in order to reveal specific habitat associations of these species and investigate the potential for a ‘spill-over’ effect within the surrounding fisheries. With offshore wind energy becoming increasingly important to the UK energy supply, we believe it is particularly important to investigate the potential ecological and economic effects of these sites.