Name: Monique Mackenzie
The project considered the potential to improve the quality of wildlife surveys through making use of modern statistical modelling methods, particularly density surface modelling techniques (DSM) and developed a ‘best practice’ guidance document and a modelling software package (and associated training) for use in environmental assessments at the project level of proposed offshore energy projects. The guidance document aims to improve site characterisation and impact detection by identifying how to design surveys and undertake data analysis using density surface modelling at the project scale.
To provide ‘best practice’ guidance on a standardised approach to survey design and statistical modelling (DSM) of bird and cetacean distributions at offshore renewable development areas (wind, wave and tidal). This is in order to improve the estimates of the densities of target species and improve the quality of environmental impact assessments. Specifically, the study aimed to:
- Review current spatial modelling approaches to provide density surfaces from transect data;
- Develop modelling approach to deal specifically with data obtained through the above best practise survey design;
- Provide best practise guidance for designing at sea surveys of the densities of seabirds and marine mammals; and
- Disseminate the approach to developers and consultants and to regulators and their scientific advisors through the provision of a modelling software package (and associated training on the use and understanding of the package).
Specific objectives were set to achieve the above stated aims, these were:
- Undertake a review and evaluation of available relevant statistical methods used in estimates of abundance and distribution of seabird and cetacean species from transect data for use in EIA and HRA. Consider both model and design-based approaches. Particular attention should be given to the use of density surface models.
- Building on the above objective develop a standardised modelling approach, test and validate this and develop recommendations for the expression of performance based criteria for the design of seabird and cetacean surveys at offshore renewable development areas;
- Develop the model approach into a user-friendly software package and test and validate this, including provision of training on use of the software;
- Determine minimum design criteria for surveys to enable the selected modelling approach to be used;
- Provide a ‘best practice’ guidance document on survey design criteria, data processing and presentation for use in statistical spatial modelling (density surface modelling);
- Identify what explanatory co-factors should be included in density surface modelling; and
- Identify how the outputs from density surface modelling can be presented and used for a) site characterisation and b) post development impact monitoring and assessment, including necessary software to be made available to developers/consultants/regulators.
Project is complete and a number of publications are publically available.
Development of the MRSea package and associated manuals.