• Biomimetic surfaces for greener coastal infrastructures: an analysis of factors that contribute to make artificial structures more “natural”
  • Grasselli, Ferrante <1991>


  • BIO/07 Ecologia


  • The growing ecological awareness of Ocean Sprawl impacts is promoting the adoption of eco-engineering strategies to enhance the ecological performance of coastal infrastructures. Biomimicry, as an eco-engineering tool, aims to design infrastructure more suitable for wildlife by manipulating structural factors to mimic natural habitats. However, little is known about the extent to which natural and artificial substrates differ in their structure and to what extent such differences affect the biota. To fill these knowledge gaps and consequently design biomimetic surfaces, I initially explored how much physical structure diverges between various types of natural and artificial substrates and tested to what extent differences in physical structure and material composition affect the epibenthic communities. By mean of an in-field mensurative experiment and a systematic review coupled with a meta-analysis, I found that, although communities tended to differ between natural and artificial coastal habitats, both physical structure and material composition reported an overall mild effect on epibenthic communities. However, an informed choice of building material and an appropriate combination of multiple structural manipulations can promote ecological benefits at multiple levels, from increasing the ecological performance in situ to reducing the impacts during the production process. Thus, I combined my findings in a final experiment, still in progress, where I am testing the combined role of shape, brightness and inclination of biomimetic surfaces I have designed in producing benefits at multiple levels. Overall, I suggest that biomimicry has the potential to increase the ecological value of artificial habitats especially when a wide range of aspects is simultaneously considered. Indeed, none of the structural factors, individually, can fully mimic the “natural conditions” to effectively improve the ecological performance of the artificial substrates. This emphasizes the need to include in future works a multi-level perspective to fully achieve the great potential of biomimicry.


  • 2022-06-27
  • info:eu-repo/date/embargoEnd/2025-05-11


  • Doctoral Thesis
  • PeerReviewed


  • application/pdf



Grasselli, Ferrante (2022) Biomimetic surfaces for greener coastal infrastructures: an analysis of factors that contribute to make artificial structures more “natural”, [Dissertation thesis], Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna. Dottorato di ricerca in Scienze della terra, della vita e dell'ambiente , 34 Ciclo.