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Research article2013Peer reviewedOpen access

Effects of an offshore wind farm on temporal and spatial patterns in the demersal fish community

Bergström, Lena; Bergström, Ulf; Sundqvist, Frida


The rapid increase in offshore wind energy worldwide has raised concern about its potential risks to marine biodiversity due to habitat alteration, disturbance from noise and electromagnetic fields. This study presents results of surveillance studies performed at the Lillgrund wind farm in Sweden to investigate the integrated effects of these factors on the abundance and distribution patterns of benthic fish communities. The studies revealed no large-scale effects on fish diversity and abundance after establishment of the wind farm when compared to the development in 2 reference areas. Changes in some species and in community composition were observed over time but occurred in parallel in at least one reference area, indicating that fish communities in the wind farm area were mainly driven by the same environmental factors as those in surrounding areas. However, changes at smaller spatial scales were evident. Increased densities of all studied piscivores (cod, eel, shorthorn sculpin), as well as the reef-associated goldsinny wrasse, were observed close to the foundations in the first years of operation. The increase was probably attributed mainly to local changes in distribution rather than to immigration or increased local productivity. Simultaneously, weak or no aggregation of black goby, eelpout and shore crab, all potentially reef-associated but also prey species of the studied piscivores, was observed, which may indicate enhanced top-down control near the foundations.


Offshore wind farm; Wind turbine; Artificial reef; Fish; Distribution pattern; Predation; Environmental impact; Environmental monitoring

Published in

Marine Ecology Progress Series
2013, Volume: 485, pages: 199-210