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Department of Fisheries Oceanography MS Thesis Defense by Caitlyn Riley

When: Thursday, October 20, 2022
10:00 AM - 11:00 AM
Where: > See description for location
Description: The School for Marine Science and Technology
Department of Fisheries Oceanography
MS Thesis Defense Announcement

"A Baseline Benthic Habitat Assessment of the Vineyard Wind Development Area Within the Massachusetts Wind Energy Area"

Caitlyn Riley

Kevin Stokesbury
Department of Fisheries Oceanography
School for Marine Science and Technology
University of Massachusetts Dartmouth

N. David Bethoney, Commercial Fisheries Research Foundation
Gavin Fay, Department of Fisheries Oceanography, School for Marine Science and Technology, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth
David Secor, University of Maryland

Thursday, October 20, 2022
10:00 am
SMAST East, Rooms 102/103

As offshore wind energy development experiences a rapid global expansion throughout coastal regions, environmental monitoring programs are necessary to anticipate and mediate any negative impacts on marine ecosystems. The first large-scale offshore wind farm in the United States begins pre-construction in early 2023. The School of Marine Science and Technology’s drop camera survey was used to create a baseline dataset assessment of the current macrobenthic community and substrate habitat of the Northern development area of Vineyard Wind Lease Area (Impact area) to understand the benthic macrofaunal community composition, substrate habitats, and the spatial and temporal scales of the
communities. An adjacent Control area was selected based on proximity and similar habitat. Broader control areas along the Northeast Continental Shelf were selected based on common physical attributes (survey area, depth, sediment types). Substrates and species were statistically compared within and among each area survey to test the following null hypotheses: (1-2) the physical environment (substrate composition, depth, water temperature) and macrobenthic communities of the Impact and adjacent Control areas are similar; (3-4) the physical environment and macrobenthic communities of the Impact area and selected Broader Control Areas of the Northeast U.S. continental shelf are similar; and (5-6) the physical environment and macrobenthic communities of the Impact area is similar to that observed in 2012 and 2013. Null hypotheses 1, 2, 5, and 6 were accepted as the benthic habitat and communities of the Impact area, adjacent Control area, and WEA of 2012 and 2013 were similar. Null hypotheses 3 and 4 were rejected as the broader control areas were statistically different from the Impact area. However, variability of these additional control sites offer insight into the natural variability of the continental shelf. The techniques used in this thesis have been designed with the intention of conducting a Before-After Control-Impact, Beyond BACI, and Before-After-Gradient style study in future windfarm assessments. The pre-construction data analyzed can be used as a comparison of data from the Vineyard Wind Project gathered post-construction and provide a framework for future environmental assessments as development continues along the United States coastline. Understanding the community structures of and variability within the Impact and control areas will better inform and prepare offshore windfarm developers and researchers alike.
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Meeting ID: 961 7161 0607
Passcode: 733376
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Meeting ID: 961 7161 0607
Passcode: 733376
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Topical Areas: SMAST Seminar Series, School for Marine Sciences and Technology