Skip to content

Research at St Andrews

Agent-based models to investigate sound impact on marine animals: bridging the gap between effects on individual behaviour and population level consequences

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review



L.O. Mortensen, M.E. Chudzinska, H. Slabbekoorn, F. Thomsen

School/Research organisations


Marine ambient sound levels have risen due to noisy human activities, such as shipping, fishing, seismic surveys and piling for windfarms. Marine mammals and fishes are two prominent taxonomic groups that are exposed to this noise pollution, which may experience detrimental effects at the population level. Acoustic effects on individual behaviour such as deterrence, disturbance, distraction and masking of biologically relevant sounds, can be translated energetically to changes in vital rates (growth, maturation, reproduction and survival) in a population consequences of acoustic disturbance (PCAD) approach. However, we typically neglect spatial variation in species distributions and noise pollution, while abiotic factors like temperature, bathymetry and currents, as well as habitat quality in terms of feeding or hiding opportunities, will also have a geographically variable impact on potential consequences. We here address the conceptual integration of agent based models (ABM) into the PCAD framework, as a suitable theoretical tool with high potential for the exploration of these spatial factors and their modifying role in noise impact assessment studies. We review five ABM case studies, including investigations into: 1) effects of movement strategy on the impact of explosions in harbour porpoise; 2) effects of disturbance sensitivity on pile driving impact on migrating cod; 3) impact of seismic survey sounds on Atlantic mackerel distribution and movement; 4) population-level impact of mitigation of harbour porpoise bycatch with pingers; and 5) population effects of alternative windfarm construction scenarios in harbour porpoise. We discuss similarities and differences among these studies in sound and species mapping approaches and we evaluate model realism and pattern validation. We believe that ABMs are a valuable tool for integrating spatial information into ecological impact studies that investigate acoustic disturbance, for any type of sound source, and for both marine mammals and fish. 


Original languageEnglish
Number of pages13
VolumeEarly View
Early online date18 Apr 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 18 Apr 2021

    Research areas

  • Agent based model (ABM), Marine fishes, Marine mammals, Noise pollution, Population consequences of acoustic disturbance (PCAD)

Discover related content
Find related publications, people, projects and more using interactive charts.

View graph of relations

Related by author

  1. From theory to practice in pattern-oriented modelling: identifying and using empirical patterns in predictive models

    Gallagher, C. A., Chudzinska, M., Larsen-Gray, A., Pollock, C. J., Sells, S. N., White, P. J. C. & Berger, U., 12 May 2021, (E-pub ahead of print) In: Biological Reviews. Early View, 21 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  2. AgentSeal: agent-based model describing movement of marine central-place foragers

    Chudzinska, M., Nabe-Nielsen, J., Smout, S., Aarts, G., Brasseur, S., Graham, I., Thompson, P. & McConnell, B., 15 Jan 2021, In: Ecological Modelling. 440, 109397.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  3. Combining the strengths of agent-based modelling and network statistics to understand animal movement and interactions with resources: example from within-patch foraging decisions of bumblebees

    Chudzinska, M., Dupont, Y. L., Nabe-Nielsen, J., Maia, K. P., Henriksen, M. V., Rasmussen, C., Kissling, W. D., Hagen, M. & Trøjelsgaard, K., 15 Aug 2020, In: Ecological Modelling. 430, 109119.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  4. Integrated modelling of Atlantic mackerel distribution patterns and movements: a template for dynamic impact assessments

    Heinänen, S., Chudzinska, M. E., Brandi Mortensen, J., Teo, T. Z. E., Rong Utne, K., Doksæter Sivle, L. & Thomsen, F., 10 Nov 2018, In: Ecological Modelling. 387, p. 118-133 16 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  5. Behavioural synchronization of large-scale animal movements – disperse alone, but migrate together?

    Cote, J., Bocedi, G., Debeffe, L., Chudzińska, M. E., Weigang, H. C., Dytham, C., Gonzalez, G., Matthysen, E., Travis, J., Baguette, M. & Hewison, A. J. M., Aug 2017, In: Biological Reviews. 92, 3, p. 1275-1296 22 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Related by journal

  1. Oikos (Journal)

    Sophie Caroline Smout (Reviewer)

    6 May 2020

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesPeer review of manuscripts

Related by journal

  1. A latent process model approach to improve the utility of indicator species

    Fleming, J., Sutherland, C., Sterrett, S. C. & Campbell Grant, E. H., Dec 2020, In: Oikos. 129, 12, p. 1753-1762 10 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  2. From pup to predator: generalized hidden Markov models reveal rapid development of movement strategies in a naïve long-lived vertebrate

    Carter, M., McClintock, B. T., Embling, C. B., Bennett, K. A., Thompson, D. & Russell, D. J. F., May 2020, In: Oikos. 129, 5, p. 630-642 12 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  3. Anthropogenic disturbance in a changing environment: modelling lifetime reproductive success to predict the consequences of multiple stressors on a migratory population

    Pirotta, E., Mangel, M., Costa, D. P., Goldbogen, J., Harwood, J., Hin, V., Irvine, L. M., Mate, B. R., McHuron, E. A., Palacios, D. M., Schwarz, L. K. & New, L., Sep 2019, In: Oikos. 128, 9, p. 1340-1357 18 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  4. Species richness change across spatial scales

    Chase, J. M., McGill, B. J., Thompson, P. L., Antão, L. H., Bates, A. E., Blowes, S. A., Dornelas, M., Gonzalez, A., Magurran, A. E., Supp, S. R., Winter, M., Bjorkman, A. D., Bruelheide, H., Byrnes, J. E. K., Cabral, J. S., Elahi, R., Gomez, C., Guzman, H. M., Isbell, F., Myers-Smith, I. H. & 5 others, Jones, H. P., Hines, J., Vellend, M., Waldock, C. & O'Connor, M., Aug 2019, In: Oikos. 128, 8, p. 1079-1091

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

ID: 273992606