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MEPS
Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 587:247-253 (2018)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps12415

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Dodging the blades: new insights into three-dimensional space use of offshore wind farms by lesser black-backed gulls Larus fuscus

Chris B. Thaxter1,*, Viola H. Ross-Smith1, Willem Bouten2, Elizabeth A. Masden3, Nigel A. Clark1, Greg J. Conway1, Lee Barber1, Gary D. Clewley1, Niall H. K. Burton1

1British Trust for Ornithology, The Nunnery, Thetford, Norfolk IP24 2PU, UK
2Computational Geo-Ecology, Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics, University of Amsterdam, Sciencepark 904, 1098 XH Amsterdam, Netherlands
3Environmental Research Institute, North Highland College, University of the Highlands and Islands, Ormlie Road, Thurso KW14 7EE, UK
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: GPS telemetry is improving our understanding of the way animals interact with their environment. Recent research has used this technology to assess the impact of offshore wind farms (OWFs) on seabirds, but few studies have collected fine-scale data from birds flying within OWFs. We use GPS telemetry to investigate movements of lesser black-backed gulls Larus fuscus in relation to OWFs from a protected site with an active breeding colony. Individual birds varied considerably in their use of OWFs; 15 out of 24 birds visited them, and time spent in these areas was 1.3% of time budgets across all birds. Two birds, for which the most data was collected, frequently entered OWFs and flew at turbine blade height; however, their overlap with the spherical 3-dimensional rotor swept volume was significantly lower than a random distribution. Although preliminary, these tracking data suggest a lack of a macro-scale (wind farm-scale) avoidance for L. fuscus but a potential meso-scale (within wind farm-scale) avoidance of turbines. Such data are therefore important in improving our understanding of the implications of OWFs for seabirds.


KEY WORDS: GPS telemetry · Renewable energy · Seabird · Collision risk · Avoidance · Human-wildlife conflict · Protected site


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Cite this article as: Thaxter CB, Ross-Smith VH, Bouten W, Masden EA and others (2018) Dodging the blades: new insights into three-dimensional space use of offshore wind farms by lesser black-backed gulls Larus fuscus. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 587:247-253. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps12415

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