Intertidal ecosystems are being lost at alarming rates, for the most due to human activities. As they provide many functions and services such as coastal protection, carbon sequestration, and provide shelter to many species, it is essential to restore intertidal ecosystems. At EDS department we develop a range of innovative techniques to help restore valuable intertidal ecosystems.
Ecosystem restoration with BESE
BESE is biodegradable material that is placed as a box-like element and provides organisms a foothold for establishment. When this organism BESE is a so-called 'ecosystem engineer', it can provide a basis for the recovery of an entire ecosystem as it improves conditions for other species. When these ecosystems help in buffering wave action, it can improve the safety of coastal communities, as stress on coastal defences are reduced.
Big data supports nature based solutions
Satellite and airborne data, combined with big data analysis helps to support nature-based solutions. Earth observation allows mapping of key variables In addition, analysis of time-series of satellite images also allows an in-depth understanding of the functioning of tidal systems. To assess the potential of saltmarshes for flood defence and erosion risk management, we need to understand how foreshores develop and how stable they are.
Bivalve beds provide a home for many intertidal species, and form an important basis for the marine food web. In temperate estuaries, mussels and oysters are the most prominent reef-forming organisms. They consume the pelagic algae entering many estuaries and deltas by means of the tides, aggregating the nutrients in the mussel and oyster beds. Bivalves also provide a hard substrate and shelter to many organisms growing or in between the beds.
Digital Lab Facility
To understand how coastal ecosystems are affected by climate change, and to forecast how they will change and adapt, it is essential to collect environmental data and to integrate these into mathematical models. We use a range of techniques to collect large amounts of data with modern technology. Processing these datasets and integrating them in mathematical, physical and visual models is the core business of the digital lab facility (DigiLab).