Testing and Validating Metrics of Change Produced by Population Viability Analysis (PVA)
Scottish Marine and Freshwater Science Vol 8 No 23
This report describes a research project, the aim of which was to review the use of Population Viability Analysis (PVA) metrics in the context of assessing the effect of offshore renewable developments on seabirds and to test PVA metric sensitivity to mis-specification of input parameters. The most useful metrics in this context are those that are least sensitive to such mis-specification, enabling more robust assessment of offshore renewable effects. Recent work has tested PVA metric sensitivity using a simulation approach. To complement these findings, the objective in this project was to test metric sensitivity using real-world data. This approach is useful where one wishes to understand a specific region where real data are available, or where one wishes to address generic questions with real data. If the same metrics show low sensitivity in models of real world data as in simulation models, then this would provide re-assurance that these metrics are the most appropriate for use in assessments. Five study species were selected: black-legged kittiwake Rissa tridactyla; common guillemot Uria aalge; razorbill Alca torda; herring gull Larus argentatus and European shag Phalacrocorax aristolelis. Of these, the first four were considered in population modelling in the Forth/Tay region in a previous Marine Scotland Science project (Freeman et al. 2014). Similar models have, in the interim, also been fitted for shags in this region so this species was also considered. The SPAs considered in this report were Buchan Ness to Collieston Coast SPA, Fowlsheugh SPA, Forth Islands SPA and St Abb’s Head to Fastcastle SPA.