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Offshore wind farms as productive sites or ecological traps for gadoid fishes? – Impact on growth, condition index and diet composition
Reubens, J.T.; Vandendriessche, S.; Zenner, A.; Degraer, S.; Vincx, M. (2013). Offshore wind farms as productive sites or ecological traps for gadoid fishes? – Impact on growth, condition index and diet composition. Mar. Environ. Res. 90: 66–74. hdl.handle.net/10.1016/j.marenvres.2013.05.013
In: Marine Environmental Research. Applied Science Publishers: Barking. ISSN 0141-1136, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Keywords
    Artificial habitats; Fitness; Productivity; Wind power; Gadus morhua Linnaeus, 1758 [WoRMS]; ANE, Belgium, Zeeland Banks, Goote Bank [Marine Regions]; Marine
Author keywords
    Ecological trap; Atlantic cod; Pouting

Authors  Top 
  • Reubens, J.T., more
  • Vandendriessche, S., more
  • Zenner, A., more

Abstract
    With the construction of wind farms all across the North Sea, numerous artificial reefs are created. These windmill artificial reefs (WARs) harbour high abundances of fish species which can be attracted from elsewhere or can be the result of extra production induced by these wind farms. To resolve the attraction–production debate in suddenly altered ecosystems (cf. wind farms), the possible consequences of attraction should be assessed; thereby bearing in mind that ecological traps may arise. In this paper we investigated whether the wind farms in the Belgian part of the North Sea act as ecological traps for pouting and Atlantic cod. Length-at-age, condition and diet composition of fish present at the windmill artificial reefs was compared to local and regional sandy areas.Fish data from the period 2009–2012 were evaluated. Mainly I- and II-group Atlantic cod were present around the WARs; while the 0- and I-group dominated for pouting. For Atlantic cod, no differences in length were observed between sites, indicating that fitness was comparable at the WARs and in sandy areas. No significant differences in condition index were observed for pouting. At the WARs, they were slightly larger and stomach fullness was enhanced compared to the surrounding sandy areas. Also diet differed considerably among the sites. The outcome of the proxies indicate that fitness of pouting was slightly enhanced compared to the surrounding sandy areas. No evidence was obtained supporting the hypothesis that the WARs act as an ecological trap for Atlantic cod and pouting.

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