Dr Gordon Hastie

Senior Research Fellow

SOI 2.06
tel. 01334 462637

My research interests focus on how marine mammals’ utilise the dynamic nature of their environment and how they adjust their behaviour in response to changes in their environments.  This includes natural environmental changes and responses to man-made perturbations.  As we see the increasing urbanisation of marine environments, I am particularly interested in how marine mammals perceive and respond to novel man-made sources in the ocean.

Current projects

Impacts of marine renewable energy technologies

Many countries have set ambitious targets for renewable energy, with energy from offshore sources anticipated to form an important part of this; this has led to the proposed installation of wind, wave, and tidal energy converters around the coast. However, these potentially hazardous to marine mammals and understanding how they perceive and respond to renewable devices is critical to ensure that they can co-exist at the scales currently being envisaged for the industry. My research includes studies of the impacts of wind farm construction on harbour seals and behavioural responses of seals to tidal stream energy devices.

Effects of underwater noise on foraging efficiency

There is increasing evidence that man-made noise can compromise decision-making during foraging which may lead to reductions in foraging efficiency and ultimately individual fitness of a range of species. I am interested in understanding how the foraging efficiency of air breathing marine predators, which have relatively rigid physiological constraints, can be affected by underwater noise.

Use of dynamic habitats by marine predators

In marine systems, tidal and meteorological processes, together with geographical features such as narrow coastal channels effectively create habitats that are in constant flux due to water movements. My research looks to understand the unique challenges and opportunities this creates for marine predators using them.


PhD students

  • Katherine Whyte, University of St Andrews. "Behavioural responses by seals to offshore energy activities". Co-supervised with Debbie Russell (SMRU), Len Thomas (CREEM), and Carol Sparling (SMRU Consulting). 
  • Joe Onoufriou, University of St Andrews. "Effects of tidal turbines on the movements of marine predators in tidally energetic areas". Co-supervised with Dave Thompson (SMRU), Liz Masden (UHI), Jared Wilson (Marine Scotland), and John Baxter (SNH). 
  • Gemma Veneruso, Bangor University. "Investigating disturbance of small cetaceans from offshore anthropogenic developments". Co-supervised with Line Cordes and Lewis LeVay (University of Bangor). 
  • Lea Brandes, University of Aberdeen. "Foraging ecology of harbour seals in relation to offshore windfarm developments". Co-supervised with Paul Thompson and Isla Graham (University of Aberdeen).  


  • Nienke Van Geel, Scottish Association for Marine Science. "Predator movements in complex geography: Spatial distribution and temporal occurrence of low-density bottlenose dolphin communities off western Scotland". Co-supervised with Ben Wilson (SAMS). 



Hastie, GD, Russell, DJF, Lepper, P, Elliott, J, Wilson, B, Benjamins, S & Thompson, D 2018, 'Harbour seals avoid tidal turbine noise: implications for collision risk' Journal of Applied Ecology, vol. 55, no. 2, pp. 684-693. DOI: 10.1111/1365-2664.12981
Jones, EL, Hastie, GD, Smout, S, Onoufriou, J, Merchant, ND, Brookes, KL & Thompson, D 2017, 'Seals and shipping: quantifying population risk and individual exposure to vessel noise' Journal of Applied Ecology, vol. 54, no. 6, pp. 1930-1940. DOI: 10.1111/1365-2664.12911
Southall, B, Quick, NJ, Hastie, GD, Tyack, PL & Boyd, IL 2017, 'Mitigation of harm during a novel behavioural response study involving active sonar and wild cetaceans' Journal of Cetacean Research and Management, vol. 16, pp. 29-38.
Benjamins, S, van Geel, N, Hastie, G, Elliott, J & Wilson, B 2017, 'Harbour porpoise distribution can vary at small spatiotemporal scales in energetic habitats' Deep Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography, vol. 141, pp. 191-202. DOI: 10.1016/j.dsr2.2016.07.002
Graham, I, Pirotta, E, Merchant, N, Farcas, A, Barton, T, Cheney, B, Hastie, GD & Thompson, P 2017, 'Responses of bottlenose dolphins and harbor porpoises to impact and vibration piling noise during harbor construction' Ecosphere, vol. 8, no. 5, e01793. DOI: 10.1002/ecs2.1793
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