Pacific Offshore Wind Environmental Research Recommendations

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The U.S. Offshore Wind Synthesis of Environmental Effects Research (SEER) effort compiled a database of research recommendations, from over 40 existing resources, that are relevant to the environmental effects of offshore wind energy development on the U.S. Pacific Coast (California, Oregon, and Washington). The SEER team then synthesized the over 500 individual research recommendations into roughly 50 broad overarching topics to provide an overview of what is included in the database. 

The database includes input from the SEER Pacific Research Recommendations Workshop held during May 3-5, 2022. The stakeholder workshop focused on preconstruction (baseline) research needs for potential floating offshore wind energy development on the U.S. Pacific Coast. The workshop covered three marine life breakout groups on subsequent days to discuss recommendations related to: 1) marine mammals and sea turtles, 2) fish and invertebrates, and 3) birds and bats. The final Workshop Report includes a summary of discussions and key takeaways from each breakout group.

The online tool below presents the synthesized research recommendations and provides links to relevant citations. Results can be refined by selecting from the drop-down menus or entering a search term. Synthesized research recommendations are ordered alphabetically. The order does not signify the importance or priority of each recommendation.

Download the complete database as a spreadsheet here.

Download the synthesized recommendations below as a spreadsheet here.

Research Recommendation Stressor/Topic Receptor Development Phase Citations
Understand alteration of trophic interactions by installation of OSW farms

Assess how changes in habitat and species composition effects trophic interactions around OSW and associated changes in species interactions (e.g., predation, competition, facilitation, parasitism) and bioenergetics, with implications for multiple species.

Diet and Food Web Dynamics, Habitat Change Benthos, Ecosystem/Oceanographic processes, Fishes, Invertebrates Pre-construction, Construction, Operations & Maintenance, Decommissioning Boon et al. 2018, Degraer et al. 2021, Gulka and Williams 2020, Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) 2021, Petruny-Parker et al. 2015, Responsible Offshore Development Alliance (RODA) 2021
Understand baseline survival, reproductive success, and population structure

Collect or model population data including demographics of age, sex, breeding status as it relates to survival, reproductive success, and population structure.

Baseline, Population Dynamics Birds, Fishes, Invertebrates Pre-construction, Construction, Operations & Maintenance Gulka and Williams 2020, Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) 2021, Petruny-Parker et al. 2015
Understand ecological consequences of OSW structures as fish aggregating devices

Investigate the ecological consequences of fish associations with underwater structures, including associated with aggregation

Attraction Fishes Construction, Operations & Maintenance Gulka and Williams 2020
Understand ecological impacts of decommissioning

Assess the impacts of decommissioning OSW farms and different decommissioning strategies on ecology and biological populations, including benthic ecosystems and connectivity of different taxonomic and functional groups.

Habitat Change Benthos, Fishes, Invertebrates, Marine mammals Operations & Maintenance, Decommissioning Degraer et al. 2021, Fowler et al. 2020
Understand energetic consequences of displacement

Assess individual and population-level energetic consequences of displacement due to the behavioral and physiological effects of OSW development activities.

Displacement, Physiology and Energetics Birds, Marine mammals Construction, Operations & Maintenance Gulka and Williams 2020, Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) 2021, Southall et al. 2021
Understand energetic requirements

Examine energetic requirements and health condition of individuals

Baseline, Physiology and Energetics Marine mammals Pre-construction Southall et al. 2021
Understand extent of artificial reef effects

Assess how local organic enrichment around OSW substrates affects benthic community structure and productivity, the distance this "halo" effect extends from each foundation, and whether these halos potentially overlap to form a “meta-reef effect”.

Habitat Change Benthos Operations & Maintenance Degraer et al. 2021
Understand how changes in zooplankton distribution affects higher trophic levels

Explore how shifts in zooplankton populations affect higher trophic levels.

Baseline, Abundance and Distribution, Diet and Food Web Dynamics Invertebrates Pre-construction Gulka and Williams 2020
Understand how species use sound for life functions

Explore the primary uses of hearing for life functions.

Baseline, Noise Sea turtles Gulka and Williams 2020
Understand how turbine layout affects connectivity of among artificial reefs

Assess the effects of OSW turbine array layout and distance between turbines on connectivity for populations of marine fauna and their larvae associated with artificial reefs on turbine foundations....Read more

Assess the effects of OSW turbine array layout and distance between turbines on connectivity for populations of marine fauna and their larvae associated with artificial reefs on turbine foundations. Determine the degree of connectivity between artificial reef hotspots, which may vary depending on habitat type.

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Population Dynamics Benthos, Fishes, Invertebrates Operations & Maintenance Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) 2022, Degraer et al. 2021, Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) 2021
Understand links between physiology and sensing capabilities and behavior

Obtain increased insight into the morphological, physiological, and cognitive mechanisms underlying movement decisions.

Baseline, Physiology and Energetics, Movement and Behavior Bats, Birds Pre-construction May et al. 2017
Understand OSW interactions with the formation of prey aggregations

Better understand predator-prey interactions, and use this information to help determine if OSW actually benefits predators (such as via improved food availability) or simply aggregates prey

Diet and Food Web Dynamics, Ecological Drivers Birds, Fishes, Marine mammals, Sea turtles Operations & Maintenance Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) 2021, Kraus et al. 2019
Understand relationship between diet composition, prey availability, and productivity

Determine dietary patterns and the relationship between prey availability and productivity.

Baseline, Diet and Food Web Dynamics Birds Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) 2021
Understand role of OSW structures as fish aggregating devices

Understand role of OSW structures as fish aggregating devices (FADs) and the resulting potential for positive/negative effects, such as effects on migration patterns, stopover, etc. (e.g.,, potential to act as an ecological trap)

Attraction Ecosystem/Oceanographic processes, Fishes Pre-construction, Construction, Operations & Maintenance Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) 2021, Responsible Offshore Development Alliance (RODA) 2021
Understand the benthic climax community of turbines structures

Understand the climax benthic community (stable benthic community) which forms and is sustained at OSW sites to help inform the ecological context both during long-term operation and after decommissioning.

Habitat Change Benthos, Fishes Operations & Maintenance, Decommissioning Degraer et al. 2021
Understand the consequences of responses to sound

Assess the individual and population level consequences of marine noise pollution stress, including avoidance, masking, PTS, reduced hearing sensitivity, chronic effects, and long-term adaptation of species.

Noise Fishes, Invertebrates, Marine mammals Construction, Operations & Maintenance, Decommissioning Di Franco et al. 2020, Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) 2021, Roche et al. 2016
Understand the population-level consequences of sound

Understand the individual, population, and community-level consequences, disturbance, and behavioral effects associated with noise and vibration effects from OSW activities, including pile driving and associated displacement; shipping and construction noise inducing avoidance behavior and...Read more

Understand the individual, population, and community-level consequences, disturbance, and behavioral effects associated with noise and vibration effects from OSW activities, including pile driving and associated displacement; shipping and construction noise inducing avoidance behavior and reducing fitness of sound-sensitive organisms, and how population structure and distribution patterns may be impacted.

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Cumulative Impacts, Noise Benthos, Fishes, Invertebrates, Marine mammals, Sea turtles Pre-construction, Construction, Operations & Maintenance Dannheim et al. 2020, Di Franco et al. 2020, Gulka and Williams 2020, Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) 2021
Validate efficacy of acoustic mitigation strategies

Improve understanding of effectiveness of existing noise/acoustic mitigation strategies including acoustic deterrent devices during impulsive noise including displacement efficiency, noise abatement and the conditions influencing effectiveness, ramp up procedures, aversive sound mitigation, and...Read more

Improve understanding of effectiveness of existing noise/acoustic mitigation strategies including acoustic deterrent devices during impulsive noise including displacement efficiency, noise abatement and the conditions influencing effectiveness, ramp up procedures, aversive sound mitigation, and other potential methods for reducing sound-related impacts to marine mammals and other marine species.

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Technology/ Methods Development, Noise Birds, Fishes, Marine mammals Construction Gulka and Williams 2020, Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) 2021, Abercrombie and Chytalo 2017
Validate efficacy of collision mitigation strategies

Validate efficacy of existing collision mitigation strategies including curtailment, "smart" curtailment, feathering, and painting blades to increase visibility and examine the different factors that may influence efficacy including landscapes, species, and turbine models.

Technology/ Methods Development, Turbine collision Bats, Birds Pre-construction, Construction, Operations & Maintenance Allison et al. 2019, Hein et al. 2021, Hein and Straw 2021, May et al. 2017, Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) 2021, WOZEP project team 2016