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From the same journal

Modelling the impact of tidal range energy on species communities

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


  • Amy L. Baker
  • Robert M. Craighead
  • Emma J. Jarvis
  • Harriett C. Stenton
  • Athanasios Angeloudis
  • Lucas Mackie
  • Alexandros Avdis
  • Matthew D. Piggott
  • Jon Hill


Publication details

JournalOcean and Coastal Management
DateAccepted/In press - 14 Apr 2020
DateE-pub ahead of print - 12 May 2020
DatePublished (current) - 1 Aug 2020
Number of pages13
Early online date12/05/20
Original languageEnglish


Tidal energy has the potential to form a key component of the energy production in a number of countries, including the UK. Nonetheless, the deployment of tidal energy systems is associated with potential environmental impacts as prime resource sites often coincide with unique ecosystems inhabited by sensitive organisms. Previous studies have generally focused on the hydrodynamic impact of tidal energy schemes, i.e. how schemes alter the flow dynamics and sedimentary transport processes. Whilst these efforts are key in understanding environmental impacts, there is no straightforward step for translating sediment to faunal changes. Species distribution models offer methods to quantitatively predict certain possible impacts of tidal energy extraction. The River Severn is a distinguished candidate region for tidal energy in the UK featuring sites under stringent ecological protection regulations. We examine the impact of a proposed Severn tidal barrage on 14 species via the linking of hydrodynamic modelling to species distribution models. Through a selection of species that are linked via a simple food web system we extrapolate changes in prey species to the respective predator species. We show that species at lower trophic levels would be adversely affected by the barrage, but higher trophic level organisms increase in possible habitable area. Once food web relationships are acknowledged this increase in habitat area decreases, but is still net positive. Overall, all 14 species were affected, with most gaining in distribution area, and only four losing distribution area within the Severn Estuary. We conclude that a large-scale tidal barrage may have detrimental and complex impacts on species distribution, altering food web dynamics and altering food availability in the Severn Estuary. The methodology outlined herein can be transferred to the assessment and optimisation of prospective projects globally to aide in the sustainable introduction of the technology.

Bibliographical note

© 2020 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy.

    Research areas

  • Environmental impacts, Modelling, Tidal energy

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