• Oil Vulnerability Index, Impact on Arctic Bird Populations (Proposing a Method for Calculating an Oil Vulnerability Index for the Arctic Seabirds)

      O’Hanlon, NJ; Bond, AL; James, NA; Masden, EA (Springer International Publishing, 2020-03-07)
      In recent decades, political and commercial interest in the Arctic’s resources has increased dramatically. With the projected increase in shipping activity and hydrocarbon extraction, there is an increased risk to marine habitats and organisms. This comes with concomitant threats to the fragile Arctic environment especially from oil, whether from shipping accidents, pipeline leaks, or sub-surface well blowouts. Seabirds are among the most threatened group of birds, and the main threats to these species at-sea are commercial fishing and pollution. Seabirds are vulnerable to oil pollution, which can result in mass mortality events. Species are affected to a differing extent, therefore it is important to objectively predict which species are most at risk from oil spills and where. Assessing the vulnerability of seabirds to oil is achieved through establishing an index for the sensitivity of seabirds to oil – Oil Vulnerability Index (OVI). This incorporates spatial information on the distribution and density of birds as well as on species specific behaviours and other life history characteristics. This chapter focuses on the threat of oil to seabirds, especially in the Arctic, and how an OVI can be used to highlight which species are most at risk and where within the Arctic region.