Black guillemot ecology in relation to tidal stream energy generation: An evaluation of current knowledge and information gaps

Daniel T. Johnston, Robert W. Furness, Alexandra M. C. Robbins, Glen Tyler, Mark A. Taggart, Elizabeth A. Masden

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11 Citations (Scopus)
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The black guillemot Cepphus grylle has been identified as a species likely to interact with marine renewable energy devices, specifically tidal turbines, with the potential to experience negative impacts. This likelihood is primarily based on the species being a diving seabird, and an inshore, benthic forager often associating with tidal streams. These behavioural properties may bring them into contact with turbine blades, or make them susceptible to alterations to tidal current speed, and/or changes in benthic habitat structure. We examine the knowledge currently available to assess the potential impacts of tidal stream turbines on black guillemot ecology, highlight knowledge gaps and make recommendations for future research. The key ecological aspects investigated include: foraging movements, diving behaviour, seasonal distribution, other sources of disturbance and colony recovery. Relating to foraging behaviour, between studies there is heterogeneity in black guillemot habitat use in relation to season, tide, diurnal cycles, and bathymetry. Currently, there is also little knowledge regarding the benthic habitats associated with foraging. With respect to diving behaviour, there is currently no available research regarding how black guillemots orientate and manoeuvre within the water column. Black guillemots are considered to be a non-migratory species, however little is known about their winter foraging range and habitat. The effect of human disturbance on breeding habitat and the metapopulation responses to potential mortalities are unknown. It is clear further understanding of black guillemot foraging habitat and behaviour is needed to provide renewable energy developers with the knowledge to sustainably locate tidal turbines and mitigate their impacts.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)121-129
Number of pages9
JournalMarine Environmental Research
Early online date17 Jan 2018
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2018


  • Renewable energy
  • Conservation
  • Marine spatial planning
  • Environmental impact assessment
  • Seabirds


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