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Influence of offshore oil and gas structures on seascape ecological connectivity.

McLean, Dianne L and Ferreira, Luciana C and Benthuysen, Jessica A and Miller, Karen J and Schläppy, Marie-Lise and Ajemian, Matthew J and Berry, Oliver and Birchenough, Silvana NR and Bond, Todd and Boschetti, Fabio and Bull, Ann S and Claisse, Jeremy T and Condie, Scott A and Consoli, Pierpaolo and Coolen, Joop WP and Elliott, Michael and Fortune, Irene S and Fowler, Ashley M and Gillanders, Bronwyn M and Harrison, Hugo B and Hart, Kristen M and Henry, Lea-Anne and Hewitt, Chad L and Hicks, Natalie and Hock, Karlo and Hyder, Kieran and Love, Milton and Macreadie, Peter I and Miller, Robert J and Montevecchi, William A and Nishimoto, Mary M and Page, Henry M and Paterson, David M and Pattiaratchi, Charitha B and Pecl, Gretta T and Porter, Joanne S and Reeves, David B and Riginos, Cynthia and Rouse, Sally and Russell, Debbie JF and Sherman, Craig DH and Teilmann, Jonas and Todd, Victoria LG and Treml, Eric A and Williamson, David H and Thums, Michele (2022) 'Influence of offshore oil and gas structures on seascape ecological connectivity.' Global Change Biology, 28 (11). pp. 3515-3536. ISSN 1354-1013

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Abstract

Offshore platforms, subsea pipelines, wells and related fixed structures supporting the oil and gas (O&G) industry are prevalent in oceans across the globe, with many approaching the end of their operational life and requiring decommissioning. Although structures can possess high ecological diversity and productivity, information on how they interact with broader ecological processes remains unclear. Here, we review the current state of knowledge on the role of O&G infrastructure in maintaining, altering or enhancing ecological connectivity with natural marine habitats. There is a paucity of studies on the subject with only 33 papers specifically targeting connectivity and O&G structures, although other studies provide important related information. Evidence for O&G structures facilitating vertical and horizontal seascape connectivity exists for larvae and mobile adult invertebrates, fish and megafauna; including threatened and commercially important species. The degree to which these structures represent a beneficial or detrimental net impact remains unclear, is complex and ultimately needs more research to determine the extent to which natural connectivity networks are conserved, enhanced or disrupted. We discuss the potential impacts of different decommissioning approaches on seascape connectivity and identify, through expert elicitation, critical knowledge gaps that, if addressed, may further inform decision making for the life cycle of O&G infrastructure, with relevance for other industries (e.g. renewables). The most highly ranked critical knowledge gap was a need to understand how O&G structures modify and influence the movement patterns of mobile species and dispersal stages of sessile marine species. Understanding how different decommissioning options affect species survival and movement was also highly ranked, as was understanding the extent to which O&G structures contribute to extending species distributions by providing rest stops, foraging habitat, and stepping stones. These questions could be addressed with further dedicated studies of animal movement in relation to structures using telemetry, molecular techniques and movement models. Our review and these priority questions provide a roadmap for advancing research needed to support evidence-based decision making for decommissioning O&G infrastructure.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: birds; ecosystem function; fish; hydrodynamics; invasive species; larval dispersal; marine megafauna; particle tracking; subsea infrastructure
Divisions: Faculty of Science and Health
Faculty of Science and Health > Life Sciences, School of
SWORD Depositor: Elements
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 21 Mar 2022 16:07
Last Modified: 12 May 2022 14:17
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/32549

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