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Red-throated Diver Energetics Project

Can red-throated divers accommodate the effects of displacement by offshore wind farms?


Offshore wind farms cause displacement of red-throated divers but the consequences are unknown.  This project aims to obtain empirical data on the proportion of time divers spend foraging, from which their ability to accommodate additional energetic costs of displacement can be inferred.

Red-throated diver on a loch (@ Petteri Lehikinen / Avescapes)

Red-throated diver on a lake. (Photo: Petteri Lehikoinen / Avescapes)


Work involved

Red-throated divers are tagged with geolocators and time-depth recorders to reveal where and for how long divers forage during the non-breeding season. Adults breeding in Scotland, Finland and Iceland were tagged during the 2018 and 2019 breeding seasons, with tags retrieved during 2019, 2020 and 2021. Data analysis will provide an indication of where each individual wintered and detailed information on dive depth, duration and frequency. If divers forage for only a small part of each day, it could be inferred they are easily capable of meeting their energetic requirements in the non-breeding season and so may have the capacity to accommodate the additional energetic costs of displacement.

Birds are fitted with special rings and tags to track location and record time and depth of dives. (Photo: Petteri Lehikoinen / Avescapes)


Key outcomes

  • Improve knowledge on diver activity budgets and energetics;
  • Fill a key marine industry knowledge gap on the capacity of divers to accommodate offshore wind farm effects;
  • Decrease consent risk for future offshore wind farm development in areas of high diver density.


Key partners

This project, initiated, developed and delivered by JNCC, comprises a strong international partnership of government, industry, academia and ornithology experts in Denmark, the UK, Finland and Iceland. It is funded by government (BEIS Offshore Energy SEA fund, managed by Hartley Anderson Ltd), industry (Ørsted, Equinor, Vattenfall) and by The Crown Estate. Additionally, the Red-throated Diver Energetics Project includes a CASE PhD studentship, funded by NERC and the University of Liverpool, with JNCC as CASE partners.



Reports and work products


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