Understanding the impact of offshore renewable energy device installations on larval dispersal in nearshore areas. These devices provide habitat over the full range of the water column, from intertidal to deep-water, and can be expected to host a very diverse range of organisms. These populations may provide stepping stones between existing habitat, changing dispersal pathways and potentially assisting the passage of invasive species.
Marine Renewable Energy and the Environment project grant (EU European Regional Development Fund, Scottish Funding Council, Highlands and Islands Enterprise)
Location of Research
Scottish West coast
To assess the impact of novel habitat on dispersal and its role in allowing transgression of physical barriers.
Model renewable energy device sites provided habitat for pelagic larval particles that would otherwise have been lost offshore. They also provided a source of larvae for existing coastal sites.
Many offshore devices fulfilled source and destination (or intermediate connection) roles, creating new dispersal pathways, and allowing previously impossible northward dispersal from the Northern Irish coast to Scotland.
Synthesis and applications. New habitat close to biogeographical barriers has implications for existing species’ distributions and genetic population structure. It also affects the spread of non-native species and ‘climate migrants’. Monitoring these sites for the presence of such species will be important in determining the future ecology of coastal habitat and in maintaining economic aquaculture and marina operations. Future model studies should focus on particular species of importance, taking account of their biology and current distribution