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Effects of wave energy converters on the surrounding soft-bottom macrofauna (west coast of Sweden)
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Biology, Department of Ecology and Evolution, Animal Ecology. Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Technology, Department of Engineering Sciences, Electricity.
2010 (English)In: Marine Environmental Research, ISSN 0141-1136, E-ISSN 1879-0291, Vol. 69, no 5, 374-381 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Offshore wave energy conversion is expected to develop, thus contributing to an increase in submerged constructions on the seabed An essential concern related to the deployment of wave energy converters (WECs) is their possible impact on the surrounding soft-bottom habitats In this study, the macrofaunal assemblages in the seabed around the wave energy converters in the Lysekil research site on the Swedish west coast and a neighbouring reference site were examined yearly during a period of 5 years (20042008). Macrobenthic communities living in the WECs' surrounding seabed were mainly composed by organisms typical for the area and depth off the Swedish west coast At both sites the number of individuals, number of species and biodiversity were low, and were mostly small, juvenile organisms The species assemblages during the first years of sampling were significantly different between the Lysekil research site and the nearby reference site with higher species abundance in the research site. The high contribution to dissimilarities was mostly due to polychaetes Sparse macrofaunal densities can be explained by strong hydrodynamic forces and/or earlier trawling. WECs may alter the surrounding seabed with an accumulation of organic matter inside the research area This indicates that the deployment of WECs in the Lysekil research site tends to have rather minor direct ecological impacts on the surrounding benthic community relative to the natural high variances.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2010. Vol. 69, no 5, 374-381 p.
Keyword [en]
Disturbance, Diversity, Environmental impact, Macrobenthos, Renewable energy, Soft-sediment, Sweden, Wave power
National Category
Ecology Engineering and Technology
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-107220DOI: 10.1016/j.marenvres.2010.01.002ISI: 000278641600011OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-107220DiVA: diva2:228340
Available from: 2009-07-29 Created: 2009-07-29 Last updated: 2016-04-18Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Wave energy conversion and the marine environment: Colonization patterns and habitat dynamics
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Wave energy conversion and the marine environment: Colonization patterns and habitat dynamics
2009 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

A wave energy park has been established on the Swedish west coast outside Lysekil and pioneer work about its interactions with the marine environment has been conducted. So far, little is known about the effects of offshore energy installations on the marine environment, and this thesis assists in minimizing environmental risks as well as in enhancing potential positive effects on the marine environment. The Lysekil research site is situated about two kilometres offshore and has been under development since 2005. During this time 26 “environmental devices”, without generators, consisting of a steel buoy attached via a wire to a foundation on 25 m depth have been placed out for ecological studies on macrofauna in surrounding sediments and on colonization of the foundations and the buoys. Sediment samples to examine macrofauna in the seabed have been taken during five seasons. Biomass, abundance and diversity of infauna in the test site were generally low, but higher than in a nearby control site. The species composition was typical for the area and depth.

In addition to sediment analysis, the effect of wave power concrete foundations on the marine environment has been investigated by scuba diving. The surface orientation and its effect on colonization by sessile organisms was examined on the first five foundations, placed out in 2005, and observations of habitat use by fish and crustaceans were made. The results show a succession of colonization over time (three years of investigation) with a higher cover by sessile organisms on vertical surfaces. Mobile fauna abundance on and around the foundations was generally low.

Three months after the deployment of the 21 new foundations in 2007, assemblages of mobile organisms were examined visually. Also here, mobile species exhibit a low density, but still higher than on surrounding soft bottoms. The edible crab used artificial holes in the foundations frequently. The foundations were placed in two different clusters, north and south, and the degree to which early recruits covered the foundations and the succession of epibenthic communities were documented during two years. Sessile organisms colonized the northern foundations more rapidly, producing a higher diversity which suggests that the placement of wave energy devices affects colonization patterns.

Biofouling on buoys was examined and blue mussels, Mytilus edulis, dominated with a cover about 90%. Wave exposed buoys were particularly favoured by M. edulis which there had a higher biomass and larger shells compared to those on sheltered buoys. Biofouling on wave power buoys, independent whether these had a cylindrical or toroidal shape, was insufficient to markedly affect their energy production.

Finally, the thesis incorporates a review describing wave power projects in general pointing out the need of future research on for instance no-take zones, marine bioacoustics and electromagnetic fields. The main conclusions are that large-scale renewable wave energy conversion will cause ecological impact primarily by adding new hard substrate to an area but not by harming organisms or decreasing biodiversity within wave power parks.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2009. 50 p.
Digital Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Science and Technology, ISSN 1651-6214 ; 663
artificial reefs, benthos, biodiversity, biofouling, colonization, environmental impact, fish, shellfish, Mytilus edulis, renewable energy, wave power
National Category
Biological Sciences
Research subject
Animal Ecology
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-107193 (URN)978-91-554-7581-9 (ISBN)
Public defence
2009-10-02, Friessalen, Norbyvägen 14, Uppsala, 10:00 (English)
Available from: 2009-09-03 Created: 2009-07-27 Last updated: 2016-05-02Bibliographically approved

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