Because offshore wind energy development is fast growing in Europe it is important to investigate the changes in the marine environment and how these may influence local biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. One of the species affected by these ecosystem changes is Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua), a heavily exploited, commercially important fish species. In this research we investigated the residency, site fidelity and habitat use of Atlantic cod on a temporal scale at windmill artificial reefs in the Belgian part of the North Sea. Acoustic telemetry was used and the Vemco VR2W position system was deployed to quantify the movement behaviour. In total, 22 Atlantic cod were tagged and monitored for up to one year. Many fish were present near the artificial reefs during summer and autumn, and demonstrated strong residency and high individual detection rates. When present within the study area, Atlantic cod also showed distinct habitat selectivity. We identified aggregation near the artificial hard substrates of the wind turbines. In addition, a clear seasonal pattern in presence was observed. The high number of fish present in summer and autumn alternated with a period of very low densities during the winter period.
Residency, Site Fidelity and Habitat Use of Atlantic Cod (Gadus morhua) at an Offshore Wind Farm Using Acoustic Telemetry
Title: Residency, Site Fidelity and Habitat Use of Atlantic Cod (Gadus morhua) at an Offshore Wind Farm Using Acoustic Telemetry
September 01, 2013
Journal: Marine Environmental Research
Reubens, J.; Pasotti, F.; Degraer, S.; Vincx, M. (2013). Residency, Site Fidelity and Habitat Use of Atlantic Cod (Gadus morhua) at an Offshore Wind Farm Using Acoustic Telemetry. Marine Environmental Research, 90, 128-135.