Posted in | Ecology

Research Will Unravel Changes to Biodiversity Around Man-Made Structures in North Sea

An estimated 30,000 km2 of the marine environment worldwide is host to man-made infrastructure and recent studies have shown that in addition to structural changes at these sites the abundance and diversity of sea life is also modified.

Image Credit: Frode Koppang/

With an extensive body of research already completed across North Sea sites, the program of science led by a Scotland-based initiative, INSITE, is taking significant strides forward to inform this relatively new area of interest.

Combining funding, data and access to practical support from industry, a new INSITE PhD Scholarship Programme has been established to offer a unique opportunity for marine scientists. 

The INSITE PhD Scholarship Programme led by a Programme Advisory Group (PAG), responsible for the overall scientific direction of INSITE, is looking for proposals from researchers in countries bordering the North Sea (Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Norway, and the UK) on the following topics:

  • Changes in the ecosystem which occur due to the placement of man-made structures in the marine environment or as a consequence of their removal;
  • Comparisons between the ecosystem structure and function on native and non-native hard substrate;
  • Variability in ecosystem structure and function on man-made structures against varying temporal scales.

Chair of the INSITE Programme Advisory Group (PAG), Professor Sir Ian Boyd, said:

“In the North Sea there are already thousands of energy installations, wrecks, and coastal structures occupying the predominantly sandy seabed. This man-made footprint is set to growing quickly with the addition of wind turbines and other renewable energy infrastructure.

“We need to know and understand the changes which these kinds of structures are likely to bring to our coastal seas. I am delighted that this collaborative initiative involving public and private funding is investing in developing a new generation of scientists with the skills to study this subject.”

“One of the most significant challenges faced by marine scientists is data acquisition. The collaboration between industry partners and the scientific community to develop INSITE Interactive, a tool for identifying and accessing existing industry-held data, has already proven invaluable to researchers. Students awarded PhD funding under this initiative will have access to this and other practical support.”

INSITE Programme Director, Richard Heard

Full details of the Insite PhD Scholarship Programme is available online at

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