Using a spatial overlap approach to estimate the risk of collisions between deep diving seabirds and tidal stream turbines: a review of potential methods and approaches

J J Waggitt, B E Scott

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24 Citations (Scopus)
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It is likely that there will be a substantial increase in the number of tidal stream turbines within the UK over the next decade. However, the ecological impacts upon marine top-predators, including seabirds, remain largely unknown. Although tidal stream turbines could have many direct and indirect impacts upon seabird populations, it is the risk of direct collisions between individuals and moving components that currently causes the most concern. Species such as Auks Alcidae sp., Cormorants Phalacrocorax sp. and Divers Gavia sp. almost certainly face higher risks than others. However, it is likely that they are not equally vulnerable. Part of predicting which are most vulnerable involves the estimation of spatial overlap between their foraging distributions and the location of tidal stream turbines. This paper reviews potential methods and approaches that should help to predict whether a population would: (1) exploit areas suitable for tidal stream turbines, (2) dive near tidal stream turbines within these areas, or (3) dive to depths where moving components are found? Answering these questions in a hierarchical manner (from 1 to 3) could help to predict the extent of spatial overlap for vulnerable populations. These approaches require a fundamental understanding of the mechanistic links between physical conditions, prey characteristics and foraging opportunities. Therefore, multi-disciplinary approaches incorporating methods usually associated with oceanographic and fisheries studies are needed to document physical conditions and prey characteristics over large and small spatial scales. Answering these questions also requires collaborative efforts and a strategic governance, approach to collating the wide range of distributional, prey and physical datasets currently being collected. (C) 2013 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)90-97
Number of pages8
JournalMarine Policy
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2014


  • collision risks
  • environmental impacts
  • predator-prey interactions
  • marine renewable energy
  • seabirds
  • spatial ecology
  • resource selection functions
  • shags phalacrocorax-aristotelis
  • gannets morus-bassanus
  • guillemot uria-aalge
  • thick-billed murres
  • foraging behavior
  • North-Sea
  • renewable energy
  • fratercula-arctica

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