Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research
Royal Netherlands
Institute for Sea Research

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My PhD project is part of the SANDBOX project, which aims to contribute knowledge and tools to facilitate the design and implementation of sustainable solutions and methodologies for offshore operations such as sand mining and wind farm construction.  I study the 2-way feedback between benthic macrofauna and geomorphology of the North Sea seafloor to determine the interactions of benthic organisms along various seabed features, and how they might influence processes such as ripple formation, erosion and incorporation of fines into the sediment.  These investigations were undertaken through both field campaigns and laboratory experiments, including several research cruise campaigns. The biogeomorphological study was followed up by a racetrack flume experiment to determine the influence of shell material on ripple dynamics in fine sand.  The research objectives in my project include:   (a) The identification of macrofauna community composition and distributional patterns (species abundance and diversity, etc.) along various bedforms types and gradients, (b) Categorization of macrofauna into the dominant functional groups (e.g., habitats), (c) Linking the potential (two-way) influences between these dominant benthic groups and the sediment parameters, which can affect seabed stability, (d) Measuring the influence of shell valves on ripple development and migration and (e) Synthesizing these results in a way that could contribute valuable insight on how offshore construction could be modified to minimize environmental impacts and enable recovery of target communities.

storm.jpgStormy conditions during the first leg of the June cruise to the North Sea on the RV-Pelagia.


Cheng, C.H., K. Soetaert and B.W. Borsje. 2020. Sediment Characteristics over Asymmetrical Tidal Sand Waves in the Dutch North Sea. J. Mar. Sci. Eng. 8: 1–16. doi:10.3390/jmse8060409

Damveld, J.H., Reijden, K.J., Cheng, C., Koop, L., Haaksma, L.R., Walsh, C.A.J., Soetaert, K., Borsje, B.W., Govers, L.L., Roos, P.C., Olff, H. and S.J.M.H. Hulscher. 2018. Video transects reveal that tidal sand waves affect the spatial distribution of benthic organisms and sand ripples. Geophys. Res. Lett. 45, 11,837-11,846. doi:10.1029/2018GL079858

Cheng, C.H., M. Huettel and R.A. Wildman. 2014. Ebullition-enhanced solute transport in coarse-grained sediments.  Limnology and Oceanography. 59(5), 1733-1748.

LaPolla, J.S., C. Cheng and B.L. Fisher. 2010. Taxonomic Revision of the ant (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) genus Paraparatrechina in the Afrotropical and Malagasy Regions.  Zootaxa. 2387,1-27