Ecosystem changes associated with offshore wind farms: Bridging the gap between biogeochemical effects and its repercussions for ecosystem functioning and servicesInternal


Activity Overview

Type: Foresight Workshop
Start Date: February 20, 2018
End Date: February 23, 2018
Venue: Alfred Wegener Institute, Bremerhaven
Contact: Jennifer Dannheim
E-mail: Jennifer.Dannheim [at]
Funding Call: EuroMarine 2017 call for FWS and WG proposals
Total Budget: €7,484
Funds Granted: €7,484

Manager(s): Jennifer Dannheim
Co-organiser(s): Jan Vanaverbeke


This workshop aims to address the current poor link between OWF- environment monitoring observations and the societal relevance by introducing the field of biodiversity – ecosystem function into the ecosystem services concept. The biodiversity – ecosystem function field introduces the theory and examines the mechanistic role of biodiversity in shaping ecosystem services (Duncan et al. 2015). Organisms, through their activity (filtering, burrowing, irrigating) affect the biogeochemical processes underlying ecosystem services.

The introduction of man-made structures affect the local communities, and the distribution of the functional traits within the communities, which in turn affect ecosystem functioning rates. However, at the present time, the biodiversity – ecosystem functioning and biodiversity-ecosystem services research fields are detached (Cardinale et al. 2012), rarely working together and generally being conducted in different contexts and at different scales (Duncan et al. 2015). As such, it is unlikely that the existing gap will be bridged using single research teams. Therefore, our proposal unlocks the potential of the EuroMarine initiative to bring specialists in both the biodiversity - ecosystem functioning and ecosystem services fields together in a EuroMarine foresight workshop to promote the understanding of how OWF affect the delivery of ecosystem services.

The workshop will focus on the effect of the introduction of OWF on the biogeochemistry of the water column and sediment, as many ecosystem functions and services that biodiversity rely on can be related to biogeochemical processes linked to the cycling of carbon and nutrients in the marine environment. In addition, these processes are affected by both biological and physical changes in an OWF environment.

Expected outcomes

The final outcome of the foresight workshop will be a synthesis publication in a peer reviewed international scientific journal and presentations on international conferences (European Geosciences Union (EGU) General Assembly, Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography (ASLO), World Conference on Marine Biodiversity 2018).


The workshop was attended by 20 participants, representing six countries and was held in Bremerhaven, Germany during February 2018. The participating scientists originated from the field of offshore wind farm research, biodiversity-ecosystem functioning and biodiversity-ecosystem services. While these research areas are usually highly disconnected, by bringing them together the workshop was able to amass the experience necessary to target the workshop's aims. The main goals of the meeting was to investigate the implementation of a methodology leading to a numerical analysis of the effect of offshore windfarms on the provisioning of relevant ecosystem services to society and to pave the roads towards the development of indicators for the relevant ecosystem services. The event was also attended by a good share of early-career scientists.


It was agreed by the attending partners that the quantification of the magnitude and spatial scales of the links identified requires an extensive literature review. The methodology for review (scoring for magnitude and scale effect) was agreed upon during the workshop. Each link is investigated for different ecological components associated with a well-defined structural part of an OWF turbine (turbine, erosion protection layer, soft sediment). This literature review therefore requires collection and reading of hundreds of papers, and is ongoing.

The workshop raised the interest of the ICES Working Group on Marine Benthal and Renewable Energy Developments (WGMBRED), who further elaborated on the results during an ICES WGMBRED meeting (February 2019). OSPAR was also interested in the workshop's findings, and requested information on the effect of marine wet renewables on the provisioning of ecosystem services, making use of the workshop results.

The participants still plan to draft a manuscript for submission to a scientific journal, however this has been delayed while they work on the ICES and OSPAR requests.

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