QUESTION SUBMITTED LIVE:
@Ruth, Hi Ruth, really interesting presentation. How will you analyse the tiles (would this be done via image analysis or manually under a microscope for example)?
Hi Jessica, we plan to identify the colonising seaweeds and fauna directly in the field and if necessary take samples of smaller invertebrates for id in the lab. The square tiles are a useful standard unit area. However, we have been discussing image analysis as a potential long-term alternative and also as an option for citizen science. If you have a view on the subject, please let me know.
QUESTION SUBMITTED LIVE:
Thank you very much Ruth. That is really exciting. There are so many sea walls around Wales where we could improve things for biodiversity.
Hi Alison, you are absolutely right about the number of seawalls and all sorts of infrastructure that could be improved. If you are interested, please visit the Ecostructure project, where you find a lot of information on the topic https://www.ecostructureproject.eu/
It is though not a trivial task and each seawall in a different location is a separate project. What you can and can't achieve depends on the owner of the infrastructure and who is responsible for maintenance and repairs. It can be a council, a commercial enterprise like ABP or NRW. It matters whether the structure is in a public space and how valuable the seawall is for the local community. The SMPs provides guidance for how long the seawall will be maintained. I feel that acceptance of any initiative by the local community is as important as the added ecological value. If we could get to a position that seawalls are not eyesores but richly colonised, aesthetically pleasing sculptures, that would be some achievement.
Is there a way of valuing seaweeds growing on harbour walls, as they are regularly removed for "maintenance" on some of our older harbours because they are considered worthless.
This was exactly the question Workpackage 2 of the Ecostructure tried to address. It attempted to quantify the ecosystem services of communities colonising marine infrastructure. Have a look at some of the publications linked to the topic.
On the other hand, maintenance is crucial. Harbour walls must be checked for structural integrity. Still, I agree that the value of seaweeds and fauna may be overlooked.
Hi Alison, In addition to Ruth's answer about the value of seaweeds in terms of their ecosystem services, there is some published work about their bioprotective value in reducing weathering of rock/concrete materials underneath. e.g. see https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0169555X12004515 I can send you pdfs if you don't have subscription access or if you want to see other similar articles.
Hi, this question is for Ruth - I'm curious to hear your thoughts on likely outcomes from your testing of the different tile types based on similar ecological recovery concrete tile studies that have taken place in other locations?
This is the first time that we are attempting to test these commercial tile patterns with a view to upscale academic-scale trials. But there are some very informative scientific papers comparing different interventions, which may be of interest to you. A good starting point may be "Eco‐engineering urban infrastructure for marine and coastal biodiversity: Which interventions have the greatest ecological benefit?" https://doi.org/10.1111/1365-2664.12961
It is open access.