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Spatial Modeling of Seabirds for Ocean Renewable Energy Planning: A Cross-System Review

Released: 2017
Kinlan, B.P., J.B. Leirness, J. Adams, L.T. Ballance, D.M. Pereksta, D. Bigger, A.J. Winship, T.P. White, T.W. Joyce, J.J. Felis, B.M. Costa. 2017. Spatial Modeling of Seabirds for Ocean Renewable Energy Planning: A Cross-System Review. Pacific Seabird Group 44th Annual Meeting, Tacoma, WA. 22-25 February 2017.

The past decade has seen an explosion of interest in ocean-based renewable energy. Ocean renewable energy technologies range from offshore wind to wave, tidal and thermal energy conversion installations – all of which can have effects on marine birds.  Environmental assessments of ocean energy projects must consider different types of potential impacts (e.g., collision, displacement), different phases of construction and operation, differing technologies, and differing ecological and oceanographic contexts, leading to a complex planning problem.  Moreover, since ocean energy facilities remain in operation for several decades or more, careful spatial planning is essential to minimize conflicts between these installations and seabird habitat.  In the last 5 years, statistical models of seabirds have emerged as critical spatial planning tools for ocean energy siting and environmental assessment.  We review progress in this area through a series of case studies that span technologies, ocean ecosystems, and jurisdictions (state, regional, and federal planning processes). We show how spatial models of seabird distribution and abundance have been, or are anticipated to be, incorporated into planning processes in these diverse contexts.  We compare and contrast development and application of seabird models for ocean renewable energy spatial planning on the US Atlantic coast (a western boundary current ecosystem), the US Pacific coast (an eastern boundary current ecosystem), and the Hawaiian Islands (an oceanic tropical island ecosystem), providing a synthetic overview of the role of statistical modeling of seabirds in spatial planning processes across a wide variety of ecosystems, technologies, and planning contexts.

This product is associated with the following project:
Seabird Vulnerability Assessment for Renewable Energy Projects

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