MEPS 458:169-180 (2012)  -  DOI:

Short- and long-term effects of an offshore wind farm on three species of sandeel and their sand habitat

M. van Deurs*, T. M. Grome, M. Kaspersen, H. Jensen, C. Stenberg, T. K. Sørensen, J. Støttrup, T. Warnar, H. Mosegaard

DTU Aqua, National Institute of Aquatic Resources, Technical University of Denmark, Jægersborg Alle 1, Charlottenlund Castle, 2920 Charlottenlund, Denmark

ABSTRACT: Offshore wind farms (OWFs) are being constructed at a high rate due to a high demand, both economically and politically, for sources of renewable energy. We investigated the short-term and long-term effects of an OWF situated in the North Sea off western Denmark (Horn Rev I; global position: 7.84°E, 55.48°N) on 3 ecologically important species of sandeel. Since sandeels display a distinct preference for sand habitats with a weight fraction of silt+clay <2%, we expected changes in habitat quality to provide a causal explanation for the potential effect of the OWF on the sandeel community. A Before-After-Control-Impact (BACI) analysis was applied. A baseline survey from March 2002 (prior to construction) was combined with surveys conducted in March 2004 (short-term effects) and March 2010 (long-term effects) plus an additional survey in September 2009. Sandeels were collected using a modified scallop dredge and sediment samples using a van Veen grab. The results from an analysis on all species combined revealed a positive short-term effect on the densities of both juveniles and adults, which was consistent with a reduction in the fraction of silt+clay. In the long term, a negative effect on juveniles was found; however, this effect was neither consistent with the additional survey in 2009 nor the silt+clay fraction. Subsequent analysis at the species level revealed that the effects detected were driven by Hyperoplus lanceolatus, which dominated the study area in all years. Habitat quality was high in both the affected and control area throughout the study period.

KEY WORDS: Offshore construction · Environmental impact assessment · Marine protected area · Marine strategy framework directive · Anthropogenic effect · Ammodytes · Hyperoplus · BACI

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Cite this article as: van Deurs M, Grome TM, Kaspersen M, Jensen H and others (2012) Short- and long-term effects of an offshore wind farm on three species of sandeel and their sand habitat. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 458:169-180.

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