About PCoD+

Detailed information about the project goals and technical approach can be found in the project proposal.

For more information about the PCoD+ project, please contact the project manager Cormac Booth at cgb@smruconsulting.com.

Project Objectives

The overall objective of this project is to overcome the most important impediments that have limited the implementation of the PCoD (population consequences of disturbance) framework. These include:

  • the lack of a standard method for assessing aggregate exposure to disturbance over a biologically-realistic time scale;
  • the difficulty in choosing an appropriate model structure;
  • the lack of a robust, fully-tested protocol for conducting expert elicitation that can provide reliable estimates of associated uncertainty; and
  • the lack of data on the relationship between exposure to disturbance and individual health, and between health and vital rates.

We will address these issues by completing five research tasks. These will deliver a set of research documents that will facilitate the wider application of the PCoD approach.

Project Summary

We will complete a series of five tasks that have been designed to overcome the impediments to the full implementation of the PCoD framework that are listed above. We will focus on behavioral  responses  to  active  sonar,  but  the  methods  developed  in this proposal will  be  widely applicable to a variety of causes of disturbance, and to both physiological and behavioral responses.

The objectives of the five tasks are:

  1. Develop Methods for Assessing Aggregate Exposure: Develop a standard methodology that can be used in combination with existing Navy tools (3MB and NAEMO) for determining the number of animals likely to be disturbed by a particular training or testing exercise to estimate the aggregate exposure to disturbance of individual marine mammals over a biologically-meaningful period (probably 1 year). An estimate of aggregate exposure is an essential input into any PCoD model that is not provided by existing tools for modeling movement.
  2. Develop a PCoD Decision Framework: Develop a decision framework that can be used to prioritize the development of PCoD models for different marine mammal populations exposed to the same source of disturbance. This framework will also be suitable for providing advice on the most appropriate form of PCoD model for these populations, based on likely data availability and model sensitivity.
  3. Create Benchmark Models: Develop a suite of highly detailed “benchmark” PCoD models that can be used to generate simulated data for use in other Tasks and to demonstrate the general applicability of the PCoD approach.
  4. Develop a Standard Protocol for Expert Elicitation in a PCoD ContextDevelop a standard, robust and tested protocol for expert elicitation in the context of PCoD that can provide reproducible results with realistic estimates of associated uncertainty.
  5. Identify Priorities for Monitoring ProgramsDetermine which metrics of population health and/or demographics are most appropriate for monitoring and for detection of the population-level consequences of disturbance.


This research is being sponsored by the United States Office of Naval Research under award N000141612858.