Seabird and marine mammal population assessment techniques

Cohort: 2017, 2018

Semester 1

Semester 2

Semester 3

Semester 4



Tools for marine conservation
Galway Mayo Institute of Technology


Knowledge of population size is essential for the management of animal populations. Significant biological, ecological and legislative imperatives exist requiring research into long term trends and current abundance and distribution of marine mammal and seabird populations. This module will intorduce learners to the practical and theoretical aspects of visual survey techniques utilised to inform conservation policies and action plans and to support reporting and other legislative requirements.


Distance sampling for marine mammal survey
Techniques for surveying seabirds at sea
Mark recapture techniques for population assessment
Species Identification
Survey design, analysis and reporting


The aim of this module is to indtroduce students to the practical and theoretical aspects of visual survey methods for seabirds and marine mammals.


Demonstrate an understanding of the theoretical basis for visual survey techniques
Demonstrate an ability to design, critique and refine survey designs for seabirds and marine mammals
Conduct sample visual surveys and utilise appropriate techniques for survey, data storage, analysis and reporting
Discuss the theory and practice of

Key skills acquired

Students will acquire an understanding of the theoretical frameworks for visual survey techniques and practical skills in survey design and implementation.


Bird Census Techniques, 2nd Edition (2000). Colin Bibby, Neil Burgess, David Hill, Simon Mustoe, Academic Press, ISBN9780120958313

Introduction to Distance Sampling: Estimating Abundance of Biological Populations (2001)Stephen T. Buckland, Oxford University Press

Towards standardised seabirds at sea census techniques in connection with environmental impact assessments for offshore wind farms in the U.K.: a comparison of ship and aerial sampling methods for marine birds, and their applicability to offshore wind farm assessments, (2004). Camphuysen, K. J., Fox, A. D., Leopold, M. F. and Petersen, I. K. (2004) NIOZ report to COWRIE (BAM – 02-2002)

Module material placed moodle to include:
Lecture notes
Reading material


This module is 100% continuous assessment. All learning outcomes are assessed using a combination of practical excercises and field reports. All assessments are formative and summative and contribute to the module mark.

Involved teachers

Dr Simon Berrow, Dr Ian O'Connor

Contact hours




12 (4 x 3 hours computing practicals) for Mark, Distance, Logger

16 hours, two fieldtrips to cover seabirds/marine mammal survey