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Behavioural Impact Assessment

Many anthropogenic activities have the potential to impact on animals either directly (e.g. recreational noise disturbance, habitat loss, pollution, etc.) or indirectly through more subtle ecosystem disruption (e.g. biological invasions and changes within the food chain).

Various statutory tools, such as Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Habitats Regulations Assessment (HRA), have been designed for qualified experts to subjectively predict whether impacts are likely to be significant, but fail to quantify impacts.

Our aim is to provide scientifically robust, bespoke, cost-effective predictions and assessment-based analysis, using behavioural-based modelling techniques to understand how individual animals and populations respond to environmental change.

Our techniques and expertise on Behavioural Impact Assessment (BIA) cover a broad range of animals and habitats.

Background to MORPH software

Informed by ecological data sets and established behavioural and bioenergetic principles, Individual-Based Models (IBMs) are constructed and tested using MORPH software. MORPH predicts the location and behaviour of animals on the basis of simple rules; principally that individuals attempt to maximise their chances of surviving in good condition. Whilst the environmental conditions may change, the rules animals use to make their decisions remain the same.

Applications and Strengths

Provision of accurate and reliable predictions on how animal populations are affected by changes in their environment (e.g. habitat loss or disturbance).

Suitable for a wide range of species and ecosystems; our current models include wading birds, brent geese, mute swans and various species of fish.

Inform and/or compliment formal impact assessment (e.g. EIA), advise scientifically defensible mitigation options and conservation management strategies.

The MORPH model is underpinned by decades of peer-reviewed scientific literature.

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