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Succession and seasonal dynamics of the epifauna community on offshore wind farm foundations and their role as stepping stones for non-indigenous species
De Mesel, I.; Kerckhof, F.; Norro, A.; Rumes, B.; Degraer, S. (2015). Succession and seasonal dynamics of the epifauna community on offshore wind farm foundations and their role as stepping stones for non-indigenous species. Hydrobiologia 756(1): 37-50. hdl.handle.net/10.1007/s10750-014-2157-1
In: Hydrobiologia. Springer: The Hague. ISSN 0018-8158, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Keyword
    Marine
Author keywords
    Marine fouling; Artificial reef; Succession; Non-indigenous species

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Abstract
    In recent years, offshore wind energy in the shelf seas of the southern North Sea is experiencing a strong growth. Foundations are introduced in mainly sandy sediments, and the resulting artificial reef effect is considered one of the main impacts on the marine environment. We investigated the macrobenthic fouling community that developed on the concrete foundations of the first wind turbines built in Belgian marine waters. We observed a clear vertical zonation, with a distinction between a Telmatogeton japonicus dominated splash zone, a high intertidal zone characterised by Semibalanus balanoides, followed by a mussel belt in the low intertidal–shallow subtidal. In the deep subtidal, the species turnover was initially very high, but the community was soon dominated by few species (Jassa herdmani, Actiniaria spp. and Tubularia spp.), and only seasonal dynamics within this species assemblage were observed after 1–1½ years. Ten non-indigenous species (NIS) were found. In the intertidal, eight out of the seventeen typical intertidal species observed were NIS, while only two out of a species pool of 80 species were NIS in the deep subtidal. NIS were found to use the foundations to expand their range and strengthen their strategic position in the area.

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