Minimising the impact of human activities on wild marine mammals

Minimising the impact of human activities on wild marine mammals

Changing the way nations manage the impacts of human disturbances to protect the conservation status of wild animals

Professor David Lusseau at the University of Aberdeen investigates the impact of human activities on wild animals. His research changed the assessment of the environmental impact of a range of industries (including tourism, marine renewable energy, and oil and gas).

He develops best approaches to managing the disruptions of animal behaviour in order to ensure that these disruptions do not endanger wild marine populations.

The research has led to changes in laws and protective regulations in several countries relating to whale watching and whale and dolphin management.

Through our work on understanding the consequences of human disturbances on the viability of animal populations, we are changing the way industry operates to better protect wild marine populations

Professor David Lusseau

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Key publications

  • Pirotta E., Harwood J., Thompson P.M., New L., Cheney B., Arso M., Hammond P.S., Donovan C & Lusseau D. (2015) Predicting the effects of human developments on individual dolphins to understand potential long-term population consequences. Proc. Roy Soc. B 282: 2015.2109
  • Christiansen F. & Lusseau D. (2015) Linking behaviour to vital rates to measure the effects of non-lethal disturbance on wildlife. Conservation Letters doi: 10.1111/conl.12166
  • Pirotta E. & Lusseau D. (2015) Managing the wildlife tourism commons. Ecological Applications 25: 729-741.
  • Lusseau D. 2003. The effects of tour boats on the behaviour of bottlenose dolphins: Using Markov chains to model anthropogenic impacts. Conservation Biology 17(6): 1785-1793.
  • New L.F., Harwood J., Thomas L., Donovan C., Clark J.S., Hastie G., Thompson P.M., Cheney B., Scott-Hayward L. & Lusseau D. (2013) Modelling the biological significance of behavioural change in coastal bottlenose dolphins in response to disturbance. Functional Ecology 27: 314-322.
  • Christiansen, F., Rasmussen, M. & Lusseau, D. 2013. Whalewatching boats disrupt the foraging activities of Minke whales in Faxaflói bay, Iceland. Marine Ecology Progress Series 478: 239-251.
  • Lusseau D. & Higham J.E.S. 2004. Managing the impacts of dolphin-based tourism through the definition of critical habitats: the case of Doubtful Sound, New Zealand. Tourism Management 25(6): 657-667.
  • Lusseau D., Christiansen F., Harwood J., Mendes S., Thompson P.M., Smith K. & Hastie G.D. 2012. Assessing the risks to marine mammal populations from renewable energy devices - an interim approach.
  • Higham J.E.S., Bejder L. & Lusseau D. 2008. An integrated and adaptive management model to address the long-term sustainability of tourist interactions with cetaceans. Environmental Conservation 35(4):294-302.