Climate change effects on the ecophysiology and ecological functioning of an offshore wind farm artificial hard substrate community


  • Local effects of offshore wind farms add to and interact with global climate change.
  • Species-specific effects on artificial hard substrate colonising community.
  • Mortality, feeding and metabolism generally increased with temperature and lower pH.
  • Temperature and pH had antagonistic effect on growth.
  • Maximised cumulative clearance potential significantly increased by climate change.


In the effort towards a decarbonised future, the local effects of a proliferating offshore wind farm (OWF) industry add to and interact with the global effects of marine climate change. This study aimed to quantify potential ecophysiological effects of ocean warming and acidification and to estimate and compare the cumulative clearance potential of suspended food items by OWF epifauna under current and future climate conditions. To this end, this study combined ecophysiological responses to ocean warming and acidification of three dominant colonising species on OWF artificial hard substrates (the blue mussel Mytilus edulis, the tube-building amphipod Jassa herdmani and the plumose anemone Metridium senile). In general, mortality, respiration rate and clearance rate increased during 3- to 6-week experimental exposures across all three species, except for M. senile, who exhibited a lower clearance rate in the warmed treatments (+3 °C) and an insensitivity to lowered pH (−0.3 pH units) in terms of survival and respiration rate. Ocean warming and acidification affected growth antagonistically, with elevated temperature being beneficial for M. edulis and lowered pH being beneficial for M. senile. The seawater volume potentially cleared from suspended food particles by this AHS colonising community increased significantly, extending the affected distance around an OWF foundation by 9.2% in a future climate scenario. By using an experimental multi-stressor approach, this study thus demonstrates how ecophysiology underpins functional responses to climate change in these environments, highlighting for the first time the integrated, cascading potential effects of OWFs and climate change on the marine ecosystem.

Voet H. E. E., Van Colen C. & Vanaverbeke J., 2021. Climate change effects on the ecophysiology and ecological functioning of an offshore wind farm artificial hard substrate community. Science of the Total Environment: 152194. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2021.152194. Article (subscription required)

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