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Article Reference Climate change effects on the ecophysiology and ecological functioning of an offshore wind farm artificial hard substrate community
In the effort towards a decarbonised future, the local effects of a proliferating offshore wind farm (OWF) industry add to and interact with the global effects of marine climate change. This study aimed to quantify potential ecophysiolog- ical effects of ocean warming and acidification and to estimate and compare the cumulative clearance potential of suspended food items by OWF epifauna under current and future climate conditions. To this end, this study combined ecophysiological responses to ocean warming and acidification of three dominant colonising species on OWF artificial hard substrates (the blue mussel Mytilus edulis, the tube-building amphipod Jassa herdmani and the plumose anemone Metridium senile). In general, mortality, respiration rate and clearance rate increased during 3- to 6-week experimental exposures across all three species, except for M. senile, who exhibited a lower clearance rate in the warmed treatments (+3 °C) and an insensitivity to lowered pH (−0.3 pH units) in terms of survival and respiration rate. Ocean warming and acidification affected growth antagonistically, with elevated temperature being beneficial for M. edulis and lowered pH being beneficial for M. senile. The seawater volume potentially cleared from suspended food particles by this AHS colonising community increased significantly, extending the affected distance around an OWF foundation by 9.2% in a future climate scenario. By using an experimental multi-stressor approach, this study thus demonstrates how ecophysiology underpins functional responses to climate change in these environments, highlighting for the first time the integrated, cascading potential effects of OWFs and climate change on the marine ecosystem.
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2022
Article Reference Small suspension-feeding amphipods play a pivotal role in carbon dynamics around offshore man-made structures
The establishment of artificial hard substrates (i.e. offshore wind farms and oil and gas platforms) on marine soft sediments increases the available habitat for invertebrate communities that would otherwise be restricted to natural hard bottoms. Suspension feeding invertebrates clear a significant amount of particles from the water column and release organic matter in the form of feces, influencing the basis of marine food webs and affecting surrounding environments. Artificial structures in the southern North Sea are dominated by a suspension-feeding crustacean in terms of abundance and sometimes even biomass: the amphipod Jassa herdmani. Animal densities of this tiny biofouler are known to exceed 1 million individuals per m2. Despite their small body sizes and their simple filter apparatus, we hypothesized that J. herdmani is a highly effective suspension feeder with a significant impact on neighboring communities due to its high abundances. In a feeding experiment, individuals of J. herdmani were provided with either an algal or an animal diet under two different temperature regimes. Clearance rates and fecal-pellet carbon (FPC) were measured. The results revealed high clearance rates and subsequent FPC, which were more pronounced at the higher temperature. Furthermore, clearance rates and FPC varied insignificantly with different food items. We further used the current findings for upscaling calculations to the total number of offshore windfarms and oil and gas platforms in the southern North Sea. Our calculations indicated that J. herdmani alone clears 0.33 – 4.71 km3 water per year in the southern North Sea. At the same time, these amphipods release 255 – 547 tons of carbon per year by means of defecation, thus enriching the surrounding soft sediments with organic matter. Our study highlights that tiny amphipods can mediate indirect effects of man- made structures in the North Sea, which could have a profound impact on pelagic and benthic habitats.
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2022
Mastersthesis Reference Protecting the marine environment whilst installing offshore windfarms: the effect of scour protection layers on benthic biodiversity
The North Sea will soon see the installation of a higher number of wind turbine foundations, greatly expanding the habitat options for reef species. These offshore structures constitute a new, artificial, hard substratum habitat on the Belgian continental shelf, where the seafloor is primarily made up of muddy and sandy sediment. The possibility of co-designing offshore wind farms with more microhabitats through increasing habitat complexity is one method for the multiple uses of wind farms. This method is known as nature-inclusive building. The structure and dynamics of ecological communities are significantly influenced by habitat complexity. Hence, an increased complexity frequently results in greater species variety and abundance. The objective of this study was to investigate whether adding complexity to the scour protection layer (SPL) increased the diversity and functionality of the ecosystem already present at the bottom of wind turbines (macrobenthos community). To study this, three different variables of 76 species were analysed: richness, biomass, and abundance. Despite being the first time to manipulate the SPL of wind farms, it has been possible to observe and demonstrate that the complexity of these structures affects the ecosystem’s richness. Of the four different treatments, a greater number of species were observed in the most complex ones (3 and 4) compared to the others. In addition, although there were no significant differences, trends of higher biomass of certain species (belonging to decapods and sea anemones) were observed in the presence of higher complexity. Conversely, the constant presence of amphipods was observed across all the treatments. With this study, we wanted to emphasise the importance of the artificial reef effect of the SPL and, together with the microhabitats that it can provide, if at the time of its construction, an attempt is made from an “eco-friendlier” perspective, combining the knowledge of ingested together with the biological. In addition, it provides more knowledge and understanding of this methodology by improving it and obtaining results more similar to those expected in the future.
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2022
Article Reference Physiological response to seawater pH of the bivalve Abra alba, a benthic ecosystem engineer, is modulated by low pH
The presence and behaviour of bivalves can affect the functioning of seafloor sediments through the irrigation of deeper strata by feeding and respiring through siphonal channels. Here, we investigated the physiological response and consecutive impact on functioning and body condition of the white furrow shell Abra alba in three pH treatments (pH = 8.2, pH = 7.9 and pH = 7.7). Although no pH effect on survival was found, lowered respiration and calcification rates, decreased energy intake (lower absorption rate) and increased metabolic losses (increased excretion rates) occurred at pH ~ 7.7. These physiological responses resulted in a negative Scope for Growth and a decreased condition index at this pH. This suggests that the physiological changes may not be sufficient to sustain survival in the long term, which would undoubtedly translate into consequences for ecosystem functioning.
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2022
Article Reference Generalized changes of benthic communities after construction of wind farms in the southern North Sea
Over the last years, the development of offshore renewable energy installations such as offshore wind farms led to an increasing number of man-made structures in marine environments. Since 2009, benthic impact monitoring programs were carried out in wind farms installed in the southern North Sea. We collated and analyzed data sets from three major monitoring programs. Our analysis considered a total of 2849 sampling points converted to a set of biodiversity response metrics. We analyzed biodiversity changes related to the implementation of offshore wind farms and generalized the correlation of these changes with spatial and temporal patterns. Our results demonstrate that depth, season and distance to structure (soft-bottom community) consistently determined di- versity indicators and abundance parameters, whereas the age and the country affiliation were significantly related to some but not all indices. The water depth was the most important structuring factor for fouling communities while seasonal effects were driving most of the observed changes in soft-sediment communities. We demonstrate that a meta-analysis can provide an improved level of understanding of ecological patterns on large- scale effects of anthropogenic structures on marine biodiversity, which were not visible in single monitoring studies. We believe that meta-analyses should become an indispensable tool for management of offshore wind farm effects in the future, particularly in the view of the foreseen development of offshore renewable energies. This might lead to a better picture and more comprehensive view on potential alterations. However, this requires a modern open-source data policy and data management, across institutions and across national borders.
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2022
Mastersthesis Reference Long-term impacts of offshore wind farms presence on benthic communities in the Belgian part of the North Sea
This study investigates the long-term impacts of offshore wind farms (OWFs) on macrobenthic communities at a far distance (250-500 m) from wind turbines in the C-Power offshore wind farm, on the ThorntonBank (Belgian Part of the North Sea) over a time span of 15 years (2005- 2020). We anticipated that due to the changes in hydrodynamics around wind turbines, together with the increase in depositional flow of faecal pellets produced by filter-feeding epifauna living on the foundation of the wind turbine, there will be an increase in macrobenthic abundance and species richness, as well as a shift in macrobenthos community composition. We also hypothesized that owing to fishery exclusion in offshore wind farms concession areas the ThorntonBank (impact area) and GooteBank (reference area) would grow apart from each other in terms of abundance and species richness, as well as in terms of species composition. Our 15 years analysis supported the hypothesis of an increase in macrobenthic abundance and species richness as fine sediment fraction and total organic matter content increase within the sediment of OWFs. The appearance and subsequent increase in Terebellidae sp. and Ophelia borealis suggested a shift in macrobenthos community composition when compared to the baseline study of 2005. However, changes in macrobenthic abundance, species richness and species composition were observed on both sandbanks, suggesting that either human activities that once took place on the GooteBank affected the communities there, or adding wind turbine does not generate strong impacts on macrobenthic communities. The observed fluctuations over the years could then be due to normal fluctuations in macrobenthos, or that other factors are at play such as climate change. However, in order to confirm these statements, additional studies on macrobenthos within the Belgian Part of the North Sea should be done on the long term. Further analysis should also be carried out in order to confirm the potential shift from a Nepthys cirrosa community toward an Abra alba community
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2022
Article Reference From a pair to a dozen: the piscivorous species of Haplochromis (Cichlidae) from the Lake Edward system
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2022 OA
Inproceedings Reference On Haplotaxis Ho meister, 1843 (Annelida, Clitellata)
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2022 OA
Book Reference Joseph Charles Hippolyte Crosse (1826-1898), 1: biography, bibliography and new taxa introduced
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2022 OA
Inbook Reference Comfort op kantoor: temperatuur in tijden van energieschaarste - Le confort au bureau : la température en période de pénurie d'énergie
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2022