Towards sustainable nourishment strategies; How environmental processes determine benthic species distribution in the shore face and ebb tidal delta


Persons involved
Ir. H. Holzhauer (PhD candidate) 
Prof. dr. S.J.M.H. Hulscher (Promoter)
Dr. ir. B.W. Borsje (Daily supervisor)

Funding of the project

Other stakeholders
Boskalis Van Oord
Partrac (UK)


Coastal seas, such as the North Sea are intensively influenced by human interventions. At the same time, the North Sea is also of great value for ecology and in the Dutch part of the North Sea, large parts are protected under the Habitat directive. The dynamic dune systems along the Dutch coast protect the hinterland against flooding. Nevertheless, regular shore face and beach nourishments are required to maintain the coastline at its current location. Large-scale nourishments on the ebb tidal delta are planned by the Rijkswaterstaat. Ebb tidal deltas are bodies of sand that are located seaward of tidal inlets between two barrier islands. At these locations, numerous benthic species are present in the sand in large densities. These species are a food source for higher trofic species such as fish and birds and sea mammals. The relationships between the distribution of benthic species and their underlying environmental processes weather disturbed by human (e.g. nourishments) or nature impacts (e.g. storm event, severe winter, calm periods) is not fully understood. This knowledge is important for assessing the resilience of benthic species to changes in environmental conditions due to climate change and predicting the effect human interventions such as nourishments.