Special plates from a 3D printer will fight for the biodiversity of the edge bands When the natural shoreline is replaced by artificial structures, most often for the safety of local residents, a very valuable environment is destroyed.

The most problematic in such situations are the small sea creatures living in the coastal zone, which like to hide in nooks between stones or cracks in the walls. There, it is much easier for them to get food, hide from predators or wait out the scorching sun at low tide. Unfortunately, artificial barriers are usually flat cement walls, which are not able to replace the natural ones, or at least this has been the case until now, because scientists came up with an idea how to prevent it.

The latest research shows that the solution works - and we are talking about special printed circuit boards on 3D printers that easily imitate a natural shelter. Researchers attached them to edge bands in 14 different locations about a year ago, including Hong Kong, Sydney, San Francisco and London, and are now sharing the results. And so, when we compared the walls with tiles to the completely smooth ones, it turned out that the former contain 19 to 51% more species and 59-416% more creatures.

Not surprisingly, most creatures, such as barnacles, snails, and limpets, preferred the back of the tiles, which gave them the most shelter. Interestingly, the effectiveness of the aforementioned tiles can be further increased by populating them with oysters before installing them on the walls. Not only do they do well on them, but also serve as a source of food for predators and an additional shelter for the smallest creatures, because their wrinkled surface provides additional nooks and crannies. The research is part of the Australian-led World Harbor Project program, which aims to create an international network of specialists dealing all about movies waterways in highly urbanized regions, in response to emerging problems in this area.