|A comparison of the first stages of biofouling in two offshore wind farms in the Belgian part of the North Sea|
Kerckhof, F.; Rumes, B.; Norro, A.; Houziaux, J.-S.; Degraer, S. (2012). A comparison of the first stages of biofouling in two offshore wind farms in the Belgian part of the North Sea, in: Degraer, S. et al. (Ed.) Offshore wind farms in the Belgian part of the North Sea: Heading for an understanding of environmental impacts. pp. 17-39
In: Degraer, S. et al. (Ed.) (2012). Offshore wind farms in the Belgian part of the North Sea: Heading for an understanding of environmental impacts. Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, Management Unit of the North Sea Mathematical Models, Marine Ecosystem Management Unit: Brussel. 155 + annexes pp., more
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In this contribution, the species composition and ecological succession of the biofouling on the subtidal zone (circa littoral) of selected foundations of two offshore wind farms in the Belgian part of the North Sea, the C-Power farm on the Thorntonbank and the Belwind farm on the Bligh Bank, are studied through time. As observed in many other studies, the colonization of the bare substratum has been very fast in the two studied wind farms. No less than 50% of the total species pool (41 taxa out of 78 taxa) was shared between both wind farms and both wind farms were dominated by the amphipod Jassa herdmani with up to 90000 ind./m2 (i.e. about 70% of the enumerable fauna). Other dominant species in both wind farms comprised the starfish Asterias rubens and the amphipod Stenothoe valida. The first year of the succession also showed a highly similar trajectory, with particularly mobile species, e.g. J. herdmani and Corophium acherusicum displaying a typical summer – winter oscillation pattern in both wind farms. This similarity was however less obvious for the sessile species such as Pomatoceros triqueter and Clytia hemisphaerica, and seemed to strongly diverge after the first year. The concrete gravity based foundations (GBFs) at the Thorntonbank hosted more species than the steel monopiles at the Bligh Bank (70 taxa versus 49 species). The presence of some coastal, soft sediment species such as the bivalves Abra alba and Mysella (Kurtiella) bidentata, only in the C-Power farm, further contributed to the dissimilarity between both wind farms. The biofouling on both wind farms exhibits direct influence by the same pool of species originating from the surrounding artificial and natural hard substrata. As for shipwrecks, specific features of the studied structures such as verticality, substratum composition or lower depths may explain specific patterns of taxonomic composition such as an impoverished sessile epifauna compared to the surrounding natural hard substrata. Predatory activities are an important factor controlling the succession of sessile species on the substratum. The high degree of patchiness suggests that the colonization process is still ongoing and the mature state, the Metridium senile biotope, characteristic for this type of substrata in the North Sea is not fully reached yet. Apart from the slipper limpet Crepidula fornicata, no introduced species have been observed thus far in the permanently submerged part of the wind turbine foundations. This observation contrasts with the intertidal and splash zone, where many introduced species were present in the biofouling community.