[MARMAM] NEW PAPER: seal avoid windfarm during piling

Debbie Russell dr60 at st-andrews.ac.uk
Mon May 23 02:06:42 PDT 2016

Dear all

We have a paper in Journal of Applied Ecology. It is Open Access and can be
downloaded from

"Avoidance of wind farms by harbour seals is limited to pile driving

Debbie J.F. Russell, Gordon D. Hastie, David Thompson, Vincent M. Janik,
Philip S. Hammond, Lindesay A.S. Scott-Hayward, Jason Matthiopoulos,
Esther L. Jones and Bernie J. McConnell


   1. As part of global efforts to reduce dependence on carbon-based energy
   sources there has been a rapid increase in the installation of renewable
   energy devices. The installation and operation of these devices can result
   in conflicts with wildlife. In the marine environment, mammals may avoid
   wind farms that are under construction or operating. Such avoidance may
   lead to more time spent travelling or displacement from key habitats. A
   paucity of data on at-sea movements of marine mammals around wind farms
   limits our understanding of the nature of their potential impacts.
   2. Here, we present the results of a telemetry study on harbour seals *Phoca
   vitulina* in The Wash, south-east England, an area where wind farms are
   being constructed using impact pile driving. We investigated whether seals
   avoid wind farms during operation, construction in its entirety, or during
   piling activity. The study was carried out using historical telemetry data
   collected prior to any wind farm development and telemetry data collected
   in 2012 during the construction of one wind farm and the operation of
   3. Within an operational wind farm, there was a close-to-significant
   increase in seal usage compared to prior to wind farm development. However,
   the wind farm was at the edge of a large area of increased usage, so the
   presence of the wind farm was unlikely to be the cause.
   4. There was no significant displacement during construction as a whole.
   However, during piling, seal usage (abundance) was significantly reduced up
   to 25 km from the piling activity; within 25 km of the centre of the wind
   farm, there was a 19 to 83% (95% confidence intervals) decrease in usage
   compared to during breaks in piling, equating to a mean estimated
   displacement of 440 individuals. This amounts to significant displacement
   starting from predicted received levels of between 166 and 178 dB re 1 μPa
   (p-p). Displacement was limited to piling activity; within 2 h of
   cessation of pile driving, seals were distributed as per the non-piling
   5. *Synthesis and applications*. Our spatial and temporal quantification
   of avoidance of wind farms by harbour seals is critical to reduce
   uncertainty and increase robustness in environmental impact assessments of
   future developments. Specifically, the results will allow policymakers to
   produce industry guidance on the likelihood of displacement of seals in
   response to pile driving; the relationship between sound levels and
   avoidance rates; and the duration of any avoidance, thus allowing far more
   accurate environmental assessments to be carried out during the consenting
   process. Further, our results can be used to inform mitigation strategies
   in terms of both the sound levels likely to cause displacement and what
   temporal patterns of piling would minimize the magnitude of the energetic
   impacts of displacement.

Please contact me for any more information.
Best wishes

Dr Debbie Russell
Sea Mammal Research Unit (SMRU)
Centre for Research into Ecological and Environmental Modelling (CREEM)

Office:            +44 (0)1334 467281
Wednesdays: +44 (0)1334 461808

Postal address:
Gatty Marine Laboratory
University of St Andrews
St Andrews
KY16 8LB

dr60 at st-andrews.ac.uk or djf.russell at gmail.com

The University of St Andrews is a charity registered in Scotland : No
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