Coastbusters – How to mitigate predation on bio-based reefs for coastal protection


Finding mitigation measures to decrease the predation pressure on bio-based reefs

Our coastal zones are increasingly affected by climate change, inducing sea level rises and more frequent weather extremes such as storms and floods. In addition, intensified human activity is heavily reducing the resilience of our coastal ecosystems. Traditional solutions that combat this erosion of beaches are considered to become less sustainable in the future.

A more ecologically sound solution can be found by nature-inspired designs in the process. Taking inspiration from healthy and dynamic ecosystems, the Coastbusters® are looking towards key bio builder species (such as seagrasses or seaweeds, bivalves and tube building worms) to enhance coastal stabilisation and coastal protection. Additional benefits (i.e. “ecosystem services”) include the improvement of water quality, support for fish populations, stimulation of biodiversity, and seafloor habitat enhancement.

Today, several bio-based reefs are placed worldwide and suffer from natural predation. E.g. North Sea blue mussel reefs are heavily predated by the common sea star. Understanding the local ecological food web drivers will help understanding this effect. In order to safeguard their function, mitigation solutions must be found to reduce this effect.


The student will become part of the Coastbusters®  student group. It includes regular soundboard meetings, participation in dissemination events and access to the Coastbusters partners (Jan de Nul, Dredging International, Sioen, ILVO and VLIZ). The student will be based at DEME or at a Coastbuster partner for lab work if relevant.

Do you want to participate in cutting-edge industrial coastal research, combining biology and predation food-web ecology, contact us!

Language requirements: 
Full English proficiency
Specific competences required : 
Interest in bio-based reefs and predation ecology. Innovative thinking mindset
Safety issues: 
Student will get a safety induction upon arrival at DEME HQ
Accommodation possibilities : 
Additional costs to be covered by the student: 
Describe the additional costs to be covered by the student: 
Lunch at reduced rate in Company restaurant (<2€) or foresee own lunch Public transport via waterbus ( Steenplein-Zwijndrecht) covered by DEME.