Understanding risks to non-breeding seabirds from offshore wind farms


Faced with the current energy crisis and Net Zero targets, the UK and Scottish governments are committed to rapid developments of large-scale offshore windfarms (OWF). However, OWF deployment at the necessary scales and pace to meet targets is hindered by inadequate understanding of their impact on protected seabird populations.


The foraging behaviour and potential interaction with OWFs of common guillemots and razorbills (‘auks’) are relatively well-studied during the breeding season. However, we know far less about their post-breeding behaviour, particularly during the moult and early winter periods. Yet these are periods of both high natural vulnerability and potential interactions with OWFs. This critical knowledge gap limits our understanding of the potential impact of OWF development, with consequences for the consenting process.

By working directly with stakeholders this project seeks to fill these gaps to directly inform planning and licensing of OWF via these objectives:

1. Use stable isotope signatures of feathers and prey fish species to explore composition and variation in diet of auks during early winter.

2. Develop our understanding of foraging strategies and tactics used by auks during early winter from tracking.

3. Evaluate the impacts of displacement by OWFs on auks via development and application of an individual-based model.


By combining diverse approaches this project will provide unique insights into this rarely-studied yet critical phase of the annual cycle. Working in the lab, field, analysis and in policy development, the student will build a rounded skills portfolio.


In response to global energy security concerns, timelines for OWF expansion have been dramatically accelerated. With Scottish Government as a CASE partner, this project’s outputs will be rapidly assimilated into decision making. Upon completion the student will be immediately employable in high-skill roles in the expanding UK OWF sector where there is a notable personnel shortage.


Notes and details of how to apply are available here: https://accedtp.ac.uk/acce-dtp-phd-opportunities-at-university-of-liverpool/

All applicants to ACCE must complete the ACCE personal statement proforma. This is instead of a normal personal/supporting statement/cover letter. The proforma is designed to standardise this part of the application to minimise the difference between those who are given support and those who are not.

The ACCE DTP is committed to recruiting extraordinary future scientists regardless of age, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, disability, sexual orientation or career pathway to date. We understand that commitment and excellence can be shown in many ways and have built our recruitment process to reflect this. We welcome applicants from all backgrounds, particularly those underrepresented in science, who have curiosity, creativity and a drive to learn new skills.

Informal enquiries may be made to 


Open to students worldwide

Funding information

Funded studentship

NERC ACCE DTP in Ecology and Evolution, programme starts October 2023.
UKRI provide the following funding for 3.5 years:
• Stipend (2022/23 UKRI rate £17,668)
• Tuition Fees at UK fee rate (2022/23 rate £4,596)
• Research support and training grant (RTSG)
Note - UKRI funding only covers UK (Home) fees (£4,596 at 2022/23 rate). A limited number of international fee bursaries will be awarded on a competitive basis. However, if selected International and EU fee rate candidates may need to cover the remaining amount of tuition fees by securing additional funding. International fees for 2022/23 entry were £25,950 (full time) per annum.



Dunn RE, Green JA, Wanless S, Harris MP, Newell Mark A, Bogdanova MI, Horswill C, Daunt F, Matthiopoulos J (2022) Modelling and mapping how common guillemots balance their energy budgets over a full annual cycle. Functional Ecology 36: 1612-1626
Buckingham L, Bogdanova MI, Green JA, Dunn RE, Wanless S, Bennett S, Bevan RM, Call A, Canham M, Corse CJ, Harris, MP, Heward, CJ, Jardine DC, Lennon J, Parnaby D., Redfern CPF, Scott L, Swann RL, Ward RM, Weston ED, Furness RW, Daunt F (2022) Interspecific variation in non-breeding aggregation: a multi-colony tracking study of two sympatric seabirds. Marine Ecology Progress Series 684: 181-197
Duckworth J, O'Brien S, Petersen IK, Petersen A, Benediktsson G, Johnson L, Lehikoinen P, Okill D, Väisänen R, Williams J, Williams S, Daunt F, Green, JA (2022) Winter locations of red-throated divers from geolocation and feather isotope signatures. Ecology and Evolution 12: e9209
Warwick-Evans V, Atkinson PW, Walkington I, Green JA (2018) Predicting the impacts of windfarms on seabirds: An Individual Based Model. Journal of Applied Ecology 55: 503-515.