To increase the amount of energy delivered by renewable energy sources, Belgium has designated two new concession zones for marine renewable energy installations in the Belgian part of the North Sea as part of its revised Marine Spatial Plan (2020-
2026). Parts of these new concession zones are situated near to, or within the Natura 2000 area Vlaamse Banken . The development of offshore wind farms poses a risk for the natural values inside this Natura 2000 area.
Man-made structures may, however, also facilitate habitat restoration and creation and as such contribute to the natural values of the area.
This project aims at investigating possible negative and positive effects of wind farms on the marine environment of the Vlaamse Banken.
Its ultimate goal is to provide advice on how to best mitigate negative effects and strengthen positive effects.
The focus of the PhD student will be on the positive and negative effects of the installation of offshore wind farms on natural gravel bed fauna and on fauna colonizing the introduced artificial hard substrates (i.
and (3) the link between structural and functional diversity of fouling communities on the one hand and the combination of man-
made hard substrate and the natural environment on the other hand.The PhD student will be affiliated to RBINS but will work both at RBINS and at the Marine Biology Research Group of Ghent University.
Master in Sciences or Bio-engineering Sciences (both : within the field of biology, biochemistry, oceanography) or equivalent.