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Functional differences in trophic structure of offshore wind farm communities: A stable isotope study
Mavraki, N.; Degraer, S.; Moens, T.; Vanaverbeke, J. (2020). Functional differences in trophic structure of offshore wind farm communities: A stable isotope study. Mar. Environ. Res. 157: 104868.
In: Marine Environmental Research. Applied Science Publishers: Barking. ISSN 0141-1136; e-ISSN 1879-0291
Peer reviewed article  

Available in  Authors 
    Vlaams Instituut voor de Zee: Non-open access 344712 [ request ]

    Aquatic organisms > Fouling organisms
    Structures > Hydraulic structures > Offshore structures
Author keywords
    Habitat complexity; Resource partitioning; Stable isotopes; Trophic niche

Authors  Top 
  • Mavraki, N.
  • Degraer, S.
  • Moens, T.
  • Vanaverbeke, J.

    The proliferation of offshore wind energy installations causes a local change in biodiversity because these structures become heavily colonised by large quantities of fouling fauna, attract large mobile crustaceans and fish, and alter the macrofaunal communities in the soft sediments surrounding the wind turbines. Here, we analysed the stable isotope signals (δ13C and δ15N) of the faunal communities associated with a wind turbine, its scour protection layer (SPL) and the surrounding soft sediments. We hypothesised that structural differences in community composition would be reflected in food web complexity and that resource partitioning could be one of the mechanisms contributing to the co-existence of such dense communities. Sampling was conducted at a gravity-based foundation in the Belgian part of the North Sea, where both sessile and mobile organisms were collected along the depth gradient of the turbine, the SPL and the surrounding soft substrate. The results indicated that the structural differences of the communities are reflected in the food web complexity as indicated by the trophic niche size, the trophic diversity and the redundancy of the communities along the depth gradient. Higher food web complexity was associated with zones where high accumulation of organic matter occurs (soft substrate and SPL). Low food web complexity was observed in depth zones that are dominated by sessile suspension-feeding organisms (intertidal and Mytilus zone). The high trophic diversity and low redundancy observed within the trophic clusters of the soft substrate and the Metridium zone indicated that resource partitioning can be a mechanism allowing the co-existence of large densities of a wide variety of species.

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