Develop methods to assess impacts of offshore renewables

Statistical methodology for assessing the impacts of offshore renewable developments on marine wildlife

Supervisors: Prof. Janine Illian (University of Glasgow), Dr Esther Jones, Dr Adam Butler, Dr Kate Searle (UKCEH)

Assessing the impacts of offshore renewable developments on marine wildlife is a critical component of the consenting process. A NERC-funded project, ECOWINGS, will provide a step-change in analysing predator-prey dynamics in the marine environment, collecting data across trophic levels against a backdrop of developing wind farms and climate change. Aerial survey and GPS data from multiple species of seabirds will be collected contemporaneously alongside prey data available over the whole water column from an automated surface vehicle and underwater drone.

These methods of data collection will generate 3D space and time profiles of predators and prey, creating a rich source of information and enormous potential for modelling and interrogation. The data present a unique opportunity for experimental design across a dynamic and changing marine ecosystem, which is heavily influenced by local and global anthropogenic activities. However, these data have complex intrinsic spatio-temporal properties, which are challenging to analyse. Significant statistical methods development could be achieved using this system as a case study, contributing to the scientific knowledge base not only in offshore renewables but more generally in the many circumstances where patchy ecological spatio-temporal data are available. 

This PhD project will develop spatio-temporal modelling methodology that will allow user to analyse these exciting - and complex - data sets and help inform our knowledge on the impact of offshore renewable on wildlife. 

Please contact Prof. Janine Illian or Dr Esther Jones to discuss this PhD studentship.

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