New metrics report measures up for assessing the effects of offshore wind on Scotland’s seabird populations

December 22, 2017 by No Comments | Category Collaborations, Marine Directorate Science, Marine Renewables, Scottish Marine and Freshwater Science report series

Marine Scotland has undertaken a great deal of research to understand how the development of offshore renewables may affect protected seabird species. Central to this work is an assessment of the consequences at population-level, with an important focus on the use of Population Viability Analysis (PVA).

The Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH) have produced a report for Marine Scotland in which they make recommendations on the usefulness and application of a range of PVA metrics within an assessment framework. Knowing the relative sensitivities of the metrics is important because the information they provide is ultimately used by Ministers to determine if a predicted effect on the population is unacceptably large

The way to assess the relative performance of different PVA metrics is to undertake a ‘sensitivity analysis’, which determines the amount of change in the metric in response to changes in input parameters to the PVA model. The most relevant input parameters are survival and productivity – the principal demographic rates that drive population change.

CEH found that different types of metrics have different levels of sensitivity to input parameters. Ratio metrics performed well in populations of different status and under different scenarios of change, whereas probabilistic metrics were more sensitive to the mis-specification of input parameters – most were highly sensitive and are unlikely to be reliable, but one performed considerably better and provides information on probabilities that is not available from the ratio metrics.

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