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

Flume and wave mesocosms

Flume system (Racetrack Flume) for currents and wave. Photo: Screenshot video 'Flume experiment with juvenile willows'.

Studying the bio-physical interactions

Coastal and marine ecosystems are strongly influenced by hydrodynamic forces originating from tidal currents and waves. The expertise of Tjeerd Bouma and his team consists of studying these bio-physical interactions. The main studies are:

  • How the forces originating from tidal currents and waves affect species performance, community structure and community interactions
  • how marine and estuarine organisms alter the physical environment by changing hydrodynamic forces, thereby affecting sediment transport and pore-water fluxes

Flume systems 

To study the biophysical interactions we use flume systems and wave mesocosms. A flume is like a wind tunnel that serves to control water movement by a combination of flow and waves. Ultimately, we aim to understand how the bio-physical interaction between the above mentioned items affects spatial development, functioning and resilience of the estuarine and coastal ecological landscape.

There are different types of flume systems for different types of questions. Some of the questions require organisms or communities to be exposed for a long-time to a given set of hydrodynamic conditions. This is to allow them to adjust their development to the hydrodynamic forcing. For these kinds of questions we have developed systems with relatively simple hydrodynamic controls, so that we can have replicates (mini-flumes, annular flumes and wave-mesocosms.

Other questions require short periods of high quality hydrodynamic measurements around living organisms. For these kinds of questions we have developed / are developing a range of flume systems, such as laboratory flumes with more advanced hydrodynamic conditions (racetrack flume), and field flumes with more limited hydrodynamic control (OsCar & MoBi-WAVE).


If you are interested in using these instruments in your research, please contact Tjeerd Bouma, by using the contact form. Tjeerd Bouma is a scientist specialised in understanding the dynamics of coastal ecosystems from a biophysical perspective, aimed at sustainable conservation & use.