In order to understand how marine planning impacts seabirds at sea, it is important to collect key pieces of information about their behaviour, such as where they are and how high they fly. Collecting information on flight heights and population density is often done by plane and with special equipment, which is time consuming and expensive. It is therefore important to plan surveys in the most effective way so that they balance cost, accuracy and precision.
This study was done by DMP Statistics. It estimates the power of different simulated survey designs to detect accurate flight heights and/or changes in population density of seven seabird species and harbour porpoise. This will allow surveyors to make informed decisions about the minimum effort required to collect accurate information for specific species and regions at different times of year.
For abundant species, even surveys with the smallest coverage had high power to detect changes in population density of 20-30% across some seasons and regions. However power to detect changes for less abundant species and during some seasons remained low. Spatio-temporal variation in flight height distributions could be estimated in many cases.