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Benthic fauna and benthic ecosystem

Thomas Dahlgren talks about the impact offshore wind has on benthic fauna and benthic ecosystems.

The hard structures introduced to the marine environment in an offshore wind farm is significant. The foundations and scour protection have been shown to provide a habitat for various benthic organisms specific to hard substrates such as blue mussels. This increased production of secondary producers in turn increases the assimilation of organic matter inside the installation.

Where this growth and assimilation replaces less productive seafloor and/or bottom trawling, this could have a net positive effect on benthic fauna diversity, biomass and organic matter burial in the area.

Learning outcome.

After having watched this video, you should know:

  • Turbine foundations significantly increase habitat for secondary produces such as mussels and amphipods.
  • This could lead to increased carbon assimilation.
  • In areas dominated by soft substrates the introduced hard substrates will change the ecosystem similar to introductions of artificial reefs.
  • OWE can be considered acting as MPA’s in some regards.


Large animals that are attached to the sea floor, such as sea pens and sponges, are considered important ecosystem engineers providing shelter and substrate for spawning fish and eggs. These species are also negatively impacted by bottom trawling. How?

Suggested literature

Some references may require a user account for the journal.

Protecting the global ocean for biodiversity, food and climate. Nature.

Organic matter assimilation by hard substrate fauna in an offshore wind farm area: a pulse-chase study. ICES Journal of Marine Science 77, 2681–2693.

Photographic evaluation of the impacts of bottom fishing on benthic epifauna. ICES Journal of Marine Science 57, 987–1001.

Disturbance of the Seabed by Mobile Fishing Gear: A Comparison to Forest Clearcutting. Conservation Biology 12, 1180–1197.

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Introduction to Offshore Wind Energy

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