Effects of ship-induced waves on aquatic ecosystems

Last modified: 
December 13, 2019 - 9:45pm
Type: Journal Article
Year of publication: 2017
Date published: 12/2017
Authors: Friederike Gabel, Stefan Lorenz, Stefan Stoll
Journal title: Science of The Total Environment
Volume: 601-602
Pages: 926 - 939
ISSN: 00489697

Most larger water bodies worldwide are used for navigation, and the intensity of commercial and recreational navigation is expected to further increase. Navigation profoundly affects aquatic ecosystems. To facilitate navigation, rivers are trained and developed, and the direct effects of navigation include chemical and biological impacts (e.g., inputs of toxic substances and dispersal of non-native species, respectively). Furthermore, propagating ships create hydrodynamic alterations, often simply summarized as waves. Although ship-induced waves are recognized as influential stressors, knowledge on their effects is poorly synthesized. We present here a review on the effects of ship-induced waves on the structure, function and services of aquatic ecosystems based on more than 200 peer reviewed publications and technical reports. Ship-induced waves act at multiple organizational levels and different spatial and temporal scales. All the abiotic and biotic components of aquatic ecosystems are affected, from the sediment and nutrient budget to the planktonic, benthic and fish communities. We highlight how the effects of ship-induced waves cascade through ecosystems and how different effects interact and feed back into the ecosystem finally leading to altered ecosystem services and human health effects. Based on this synthesis of wave effects, we discuss strategies for mitigation. This may help to develop scientifically based and target-oriented management plans for navigational waters that optimize abiotic and biotic integrity and their ecosystem services and uses.

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