Incorporating data uncertainty when estimating potential vulnerability of Scottish seabirds to marine renewable energy developments

H.M. Wade, E.A. Masden, A.C. Jackson, R.W. Furness

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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The effects of marine renewable energy developments (MREDs) on seabirds are uncertain because of the relative infancy of the industry. This uncertainty can delay the consenting process as regulators adopt a precautionary approach. This study uses novel methods to demonstrate uncertainty in two indices that ranked the vulnerability of seabird populations to MREDs. The study also consolidates recently available data with information from the two indices to consider developments in our understanding of how seabirds respond to MREDs and to present up-to-date vulnerability predictions. Results indicate greater uncertainty in data regarding displacement caused by vessels and/or helicopters, and use of tidal races by seabirds, than in data regarding the percentage of flight overlapping with wind turbine blades and the level of displacement caused by structures. Results also indicate varying uncertainty among species. Overall vulnerability rankings remained broadly the same, with some minor changes. The uncertainty indices highlight areas lacking data, identify robust predictions, and indicate where particular caution in interpreting vulnerability indices should be adopted. They are a useful tool to inform impact assessment and identify strategic research and monitoring priorities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)108-113
Number of pages5
JournalMarine Policy
Early online date12 May 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2016


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