Skip to main content

Postgraduate research project

Ecological role of offshore artificial structures

Fully funded (UK and international)
Type of degree
Doctor of Philosophy
Entry requirements
2:1 honours degree View full entry requirements
Faculty graduate school
Faculty of Environmental and Life Sciences
Closing date

About the project

Energy production in the global oceans through renewables and hydrocarbons is critical for human society and continues to expand. Complex structures are routinely installed in the marine environment including pipelines, cables and other infrastructure. These structures are eventually removed (decommissioning), something that is particularly prevalent at present for offshore oil and gas industry infrastructure.  

Offshore infrastructure alters ecological structure and functioning through habitat provision, increased biomass and enhanced connectivity, and supports species of conservation importance. Assemblages supported by artificial structures vary over a range of spatial scales from regional (e.g. between ocean basins) to fine scales (e.g. location on the structure) and on temporal scales related to the age of the structure and stage of succession. 

There is increasing policy debate about best practice for permitting structure installation and removal, with major differences in approach across the world. There is urgent need for scientific evidence on the role of artificial structures to support this. This project will advance our understanding of how fauna associated with offshore structures changes over different spatial scales (e.g. ocean basins or depth gradients) and over time, through repeat observations. It will focus on subsea pipelines, which are common structures that cover broad spatial scales in open ocean.  

For full project details visit the Inspire project page.

Lead supervisor

  • Doctor Andrew Gates (National Oceanography Centre)


  • Doctor Daniel Jones (National Oceanography Centre)
  • Professor Jon Copley (University of Southampton)
  • Doctor Cristina Evans (Subsea7)