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Title: Quantifying deep-diving seabirds use of high energy environments and spatial overlap with tidal stream turbines
Author: Waggitt, James Jeffrey
ISNI:       0000 0004 5358 3852
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2015
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The increasing exploitation of marine renewable energy resources will create novel and unprecedented levels of anthropogenic activities in many coastal locations across the UK. In particular, locations with extensive and exploitable tidal stream energy resources will see large and dense arrays of installations, driven by the aggregated and limited distribution of this resource. Whilst the number of installations exploiting tidal stream energy resources is increasing, the environment impacts of installations remain unknown. This uncertainty is linked to our poor knowledge of the ecological function and importance of the high-energy environments, characterised with mean current speeds exceeding 2 ms-1, which are required for commercially viable installations. This thesis aims to increase our understanding of deep-diving seabirds' (Alcidae, Phalacrocoridae) use of high-energy environments, helping provide the information needed to estimate whether, which and when species could interact with installations. Chapters 3, 5 and 6 highlight the influence of predictable physical conditions (hydrodynamics, seabed features) on the foraging distributions of deep-diving seabirds across several spatial and temporal scales, indicating that the probable times and locations of foraging events within these habitats can be predicted. Chapter 4 directly tackles the estimation of spatial overlap between the foraging distributions of deep-diving seabirds and the locations of tidal stream turbines within a high-energy environment, evaluating and implementing methods to assess potential impacts at local and regional levels. Collectively, this thesis provides rare and novel studies into deep-diving seabirds' use of high-energy environments outside North America, and the only studies within these habitats that have collected quantitative and concurrent measurements of physical conditions and the foraging distributions of seabirds at fine spatial and temporal scales. In doing so, this thesis provides the empirical evidence needed to start identifying potential impacts from tidal stream energy extraction with more precision and confidence. By revealing the influence of predictable physical conditions on foraging events over several spatial and temporal scales, and also quantifying differences in habitat and microhabitat selection amongst deep-diving seabird species, this thesis also provides a unique contribution to our knowledge of the processes driving the foraging distributions of seabirds within coastal environments.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: NERC
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Sea birds ; Marine turbines