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Article Reference Le Moustier 1 Neandertal – The discovery of two new sets of casts, 3D reconstruction and comparison with original fossils
The postcranial skeleton of the Le Moustier 1 Neandertal was severely damaged and burnt at the end of the Second World War. A series of plaster casts were realized on the skeleton before it was destroyed. Five casts are already known to be in existence. This study brings to light two more sets of casts which were recently discovered in Belgium. One set is from the Louis Deroubaix Museum (LDM) and the other set is from the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences (RBINS). The casts at the LDM were processed by Computed Tomography and three-dimensional models were produced. Measurements were taken both virtually and physically on all available postcranial bones from both LDM and RBINS casts. These measurements were then compared with previously published measurements taken on the original bones and the other available casts. There were no statistical differences between measurements on the original fossils and other existing casts and the physical and digitised casts from LDM and RBINS. The discovery of these new Le Moustier 1 casts is interesting because the original bones of the Neandertal juvenile Le Moustier 1 were destroyed and pre-adolescent Neandertals are not frequently found in the paleoanthropological record. Virtual copies of these casts are now freely available to other researchers and the public.
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2021 OA
Inbook Reference Executive summary: Attraction, avoidance and habitat use at various spatial scales
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2021
Inbook Reference Occurrence of intense bird migration events at rotor height in Belgian offshore wind farms and curtailment as possible mitigation to reduce collision risk
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2021
Book Reference Environmental impacts of offshore wind farms in the Belgian part of the North Sea: Attraction, avoidance and habitat use at various spatial scales
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2021
Inbook Reference Offshore renewable energy development in the Belgian part of the North Sea – 2021
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2021
Inbook Reference Blue mussel Mytilus edulis as habitat provider on offshore wind turbine foundations
We compare the species composition of the early (mussels not prevalent) and mature (mussels prevalent) subtidal colonizing communities at offshore windturbine foundations with special attention to the mobility and habitat preferences of the colonizing species. We identified 47 species belonging to nine different phyla from the samples of the mature community, including 21 species unique to the secondary substratum provided by the mussel shell, all of them are sessile species. Only 17 of the 37 species identified from the early subtidal colonizing community were present in the mature community. The main phyla present in both the early and mature samples were Mollusca, Arthropoda, and Annelida. Our findings confirm the hypothesis that mussels counteract the impoverishment of total species richness on wind turbines, caused by the abundant presence of Metridium senile in mature artificial hard substratum communities by providing secondary substratum for colonization by. sessile and hemi-sessile epifauna. The species assemblage found on these mussels is different from the one previously found on the piles, and only seventeen species (~36%) present in the mature community were already present in the first year after installation. In 2020, all bryozoan species (7) were exclusively observed on the secondary substratum provided by the shells of the mussels. However, these species were previously encountered on the scour protection or on the shells of other bivalves. This may be due to the fact that the secondary substratum provided by the mussels differs in physical properties (e.g., microhabitat complexity) from the primary (vertical) substratum of the pile.
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2021
Inbook Reference Effects of the use of noise-mitigation during offshore pile driving on harbour porpoise (Phocoena phocoena)
In recent years, noise-mitigation technology became more efficient and noise levels during pile driving were reduced significantly. Using passive acoustic monitoring (PAM) datasets from 2016 (Nobelwind construction – no noise mitigation) and 2019 (Northwester 2 and SeaMade construction – Double Big Bubble Curtain) we analyse whether noise mitigation measures applied during the construction of offshore wind farms influenced the likelihood of detecting harbour porpoise (Phocoena phocoena) during pile driving in the Belgian part of the North Sea (BPNS). Exploratory analyses indicate reductions to the spatial and temporal extent of avoidance of the construction area by porpoise when noise mitigation is applied. Without noise mitigation, mean detection rates of porpoises reduced up to 15-20 km from the pile driving location. With noise mitigation however, mean detection rates of porpoises reduced to a lesser extent and this reduction mainly took place at 0-10 km from the pile driving.
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2021
Article Reference Subtidal Natural Hard Substrate Quantitative Habitat Mapping: Interlinking Underwater Acoustics and Optical Imagery with Machine Learning
Subtidal natural hard substrates (SNHS) promote occupancy by rich benthic communities that provide irreplaceable and fundamental ecosystem functions, representing a global priority target for nature conservation and recognised in most European environmental legislation. However, scientifically validated methodologies for their quantitative spatial demarcation, including information on species occupancy and fine-scale environmental drivers (e.g., the effect of stone size on colonisation) are rare. This is, however, crucial information for sound ecological management. In this investigation, high-resolution (1 m) multibeam echosounder (MBES) depth and backscatter data and derivates, underwater imagery (UI) by video drop-frame, and grab sediment samples, all acquired within 32 km2 of seafloor in offshore Belgian waters, were integrated to produce a random forest (RF) spatial model, predicting the continuous distribution of the seafloor areal cover/m2 of the stones’ grain sizes promoting colonisation by sessile epilithic organisms. A semi-automated UI acquisition, processing, and analytical workflow was set up to quantitatively study the colonisation proportion of different grain sizes, identifying the colonisation potential to begin at stones with grain sizes Ø ≥ 2 cm. This parameter (i.e., % areal cover of stones Ø ≥ 2 cm/m2) was selected as the response variable for spatial predictive modelling. The model output is presented along with a protocol of error and uncertainty estimation. RF is confirmed as an accurate, versatile, and transferable mapping methodology, applicable to area-wide mapping of SNHS. UI is confirmed as an essential aid to acoustic seafloor classification, providing spatially representative numerical observations needed to carry out quantitative seafloor modelling of ecologically relevant parameters. This contribution sheds innovative insights into the ecologically relevant delineation of subtidal natural reef habitat, exploiting state-of-the-art underwater remote sensing and acoustic seafloor classification approaches.
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2021
Article Reference 4DEMON: Integrating 40 Years of Data on PCB and Metal Contamination in Marine Sediments of the Belgian Part of the North Sea
The assessment of historical data is important to understand long-term changes in the marine environment. Whereas time series analyses based on monitoring data typically span one or two decades, this work aimed to integrate 40 years of monitoring and research data on polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and metals in the Belgian Part of the North Sea (BPNS). Multiple challenges were encountered: sampling locations changed over time, different analytical methods were applied, different grain size fractions were analyzed, appropriate co-factors were not always analyzed, and measurement uncertainties were not always indicated. These issues hampered the use of readily available, highly standardized trend modeling approaches like those proposed by regional sea conventions such as OSPAR, named after the Oslo and Paris conventions.Therefore, we applied alternative approaches, allowing us to include most older historical data that have been obtained during the nineteen seventies and eighties. Our approach included reproducible and quality controlled procedures from data collection up to data assessment. It included spatial clustering, data normalization and parametric linear mixed effect modeling. A Ward hierarchical clustering was applied on recently obtained contaminant data, as the basis for a spatial division of the BPNS into five distinct areas with different contamination profiles. To minimize the risk of normalization errors for the metal data analyses, four normalization approaches were applied and mutually compared: granulometric and nickel (Ni) normalization, next to two hybrid normalization methods combining aluminum (Al) and iron (Fe) normalization. The long-term models revealed decreasing trends for most metals, except zinc (Zn) for which three out of four models showed increasing concentrations in all five zones of the BPNS. Offshore sediments contained the lowest normalized mercury (Hg) and cadmium (Cd) concentrations but high arsenic (As) concentrations. Trend analysis revealed a strong decrease in PCB concentrations in the nineteen eighties and nineties, followed by a slight increase over the last decade. The extended timeframe for contaminant assessment, as applied in this study, is of added value for scientists and policy makers, as the approach allows to detect trends and effects of anthropogenic activities within the marine environment within a broad perspective.
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2021
Book Reference Field guide to the brittle and basket stars (Echinodermata: Ophiuroidea) of South Africa
Brittle and basket stars (ophiuroids) are one of five extant classes of the phylum Echinodermata and have a fossil record dating back almost 500 million years to the Early Ordovician. Today, they remain diverse and widespread, with over 260 described genera and 2,077 extant species globally (Stöhr et al. 2018), more than any other class of echinoderm. Ophiuroid species are found across all marine habitats from the intertidal shore to the abyss. In southern Africa, the ophiuroid fauna has been studied extensively by a number of authors and is relatively wellknown. The last published review of the southern African Ophiuroidea however was by Clark & Courtman-Stock in 1976. It included 101 species reported from within the boundaries of South Africa. In the 40 years since that publication the number of species has risen to 136. This identification guide includes a taxonomic key to all 136 species, and gives key references, istribution maps, diagnoses, scaled photographs (where possible), and a synthesis of known ecological and depth information for each. The guide is designed to be comprehensive, well illustrated and easy to use for both naturalists and professional biologists. Taxonomic terms, morphological characteristics and technical expressions are defined and described in detail, with illustrations to clarify some aspects of the terminology. A checklist of all species in the region is also included, and indicates which species are endemic (33), for which we report significant range extensions (23), which have been recorded as new to the South African fauna (28) since the previous monograph of Clark & Courtman-Stock (1976) and which have undergone taxonomic revisions since that time (28).
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2019