Dr Gordon Hastie

Dr Gordon Hastie
Senior Research Fellow

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.

source: symbiosis

Research Overview:

Risk balancing by marine predators

Animals that live under threat of predation have evolved behavioural strategies enabling them to perform essential tasks such as forage whilst minimising risks.  This balancing of risk involves a range of behavioural adjustments in response to changes in prey availability and perceived threat levels.  I am interested in understanding the cognitive, behavioural, and energetic facets associated with risk balancing and decision making in foraging marine predators.

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.

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 are 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.


Research Group 

  • Katherine Whyte, PhD student, 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). 
  • Izzy Langley, PhD student, University of St Andrews. "Inter-specific Interactions: investigating the role of grey seals in the harbour seal decline". Co-supervised with Debbie Russell (SMRU), Paul Thompson (University of Aberdeen), and Andrew Brownlow (SAC).
  • Julia Sutherland, PhD student, University of St Andrews. "Killer Whale Predation of Seals in the Coastal Waters of Scotland: Investigating the Ecological Drivers and Consequences of an Apex Predator-Prey Interaction". Co-supervised with Saana Isojunno (SMRU), Peter Tyack (SMRU), Ross Culloch (Marine Scotland Science), and Karen Hall (NatureScot).
  • Gemma Veneruso, PhD student, Bangor University. "Investigating disturbance of small cetaceans from offshore anthropogenic developments". Co-supervised with Line Cordes and Lewis LeVay (University of Bangor).


  • Michael Oswald, Engineer, Equipment and sensor design for NERC Innovative Monitoring Techniques project.
  • Laura Palmer, PGRA, Acoustic data analyst for marine mammal/tidal turbine interactions project.
  • Joe Onoufriou, PhD student, 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).
  • Nienke Van Geel, PhD student, 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).


20 (of 54 /dk/atira/pure/researchoutput/status/published available) for gdh10 (source: University of St Andrews PURE)
Please click title of any item for full details

Harbour porpoises exhibit localized evasion of a tidal turbine Douglas Michael Gillespie, Laura Eve Palmer, Jamie Donald John MacAulay, Carol Elizabeth Sparling, Gordon Drummond Hastie
Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems 2021 vol. 31 pp. 2459-2468
Shining new light on sensory brain activation and physiological measurement in seals using wearable optical technology Chris McKnight, Alexander Ruesch, Kimberley Bennett, Mathijs Bronkhorst, Steven Thomas Balfour, Simon Moss, Ryan Milne, Peter Lloyd Tyack, Jana Kainerstorfer, Gordon Drummond Hastie
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 2021 vol. 376
Wearable near-infrared spectroscopy as a physiological monitoring tool for seals under anaesthesia Eva-Maria S. Bønnelycke, Gordon Drummond Hastie, Kimberley A. A. Bennett, Jana M. Kainerstorfer, Ryan Milne, Simon E. W. Moss, Alexander Ruesch, Jingyi Wu, Chris McKnight
Remote Sensing 2021 vol. 13
When the human brain goes diving Chris McKnight, Eric Mulder, Alexander Ruesch, Jana Kainerstorfer, Jingyi Wu, Naser Hakimi, Steven Thomas Balfour, Mathijs Bronkhorst, Jorn Horschig, Frank Pernett, Katsufumi Sato, Gordon Drummond Hastie, Peter Lloyd Tyack, Erika Schagatay
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 2021 vol. 376
Estimating the effects of pile driving sounds on seals Katherine Fae Whyte, Debbie JF Russell, Carol Elizabeth Sparling, Bas Binnerts, Gordon Drummond Hastie
Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 2020 vol. 147 pp. 3948-3958
Habitat-based predictions of at-sea distribution for grey and harbour seals in the British Isles Matt Carter, Lars Boehme, Callan David Duck, James Grecian, Gordon Drummond Hastie, Bernie J McConnell, David Lawrence Miller, Chris Morris, Simon Moss, David Thompson, Paul Thompson, Debbie JF Russell
Passive acoustic methods for tracking the 3D movements of small cetaceans around marine structures Douglas Michael Gillespie, Laura Eve Palmer, Jamie Donald John MacAulay, Carol Elizabeth Sparling, Gordon Drummond Hastie
PLoS ONE 2020 vol. 15
Automated detection and tracking of marine mammals Gordon Drummond Hastie, Mick Wu, Simon Moss, Pauline Jepp, Jamie Donald John MacAulay, Arthur Lee, Carol Elizabeth Sparling, Clair Hilary Marie Evers, Douglas Michael Gillespie
Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems 2019 vol. 29 pp. 119-130
Effects of impulsive noise on marine mammals Gordon Drummond Hastie, Nathan Merchant, Thomas Goetz, Debbie JF Russell, Paul Thompson, Vincent Janik
Ecological Applications 2019 vol. 29
Three-dimensional movements of harbour seals in a tidally energetic channel Gordon Drummond Hastie, Matthew Bivins, Alexander James Coram, Jonathan Charles David Gordon, Pauline Jepp, Jamie Donald John MacAulay, Carol Elizabeth Sparling, Douglas Michael Gillespie
Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems 2019 vol. 29 pp. 564-575
Harbour seals avoid tidal turbine noise Gordon Drummond Hastie, Debbie JF Russell, Paul Lepper, Jim Elliott, Ben Wilson, Steven Benjamins, David Thompson
Journal of Applied Ecology 2018 vol. 55 pp. 684-693
Harbour porpoise distribution can vary at small spatiotemporal scales in energetic habitats Steven Benjamins, Nienke van Geel, Gordon Drummond Hastie, Jim Elliott, Ben Wilson
Deep Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography 2017 vol. 141 pp. 191-202
Mitigation of harm during a novel behavioural response study involving active sonar and wild cetaceans Brandon Southall, Gordon Drummond Hastie, Peter Lloyd Tyack, Ian Boyd
Journal of Cetacean Research and Management 2017 vol. 16 pp. 29-38
Physiological constraints and energetic costs of diving behaviour in marine mammals David Rosen, Allyson Hindle, Andreas Fahlman, Carling Gerlinsky, Elizabeth Goundie, Gordon Drummond Hastie, Beth Volpov, Andrew Trites
Journal of Comparative Physiology B: Biochemical, Systems, and Environmental Physiology 2017 vol. 187 pp. 29-50
Responses of bottlenose dolphins and harbor porpoises to impact and vibration piling noise during harbor construction Isla Graham, Enrico Pirotta, Nathan Merchant, Adrian Farcas, Tim Barton, Barbara Cheney, Gordon Drummond Hastie, Paul Thompson
Ecosphere 2017 vol. 8
Seals and shipping Esther Lane Jones, Gordon Drummond Hastie, Sophie Caroline Smout, Joseph Alistair Ross Onoufriou, Nathan Merchant, Kate Brookes, David Thompson
Journal of Applied Ecology 2017 vol. 54 pp. 1930-1940
Aerial low frequency hearing in captive and free-ranging harbour seals (Phoca vitulina) using auditory brainstem responses Klaus Lucke, Gordon Drummond Hastie, Kerstin Ternes, Bernie J McConnell, Simon Moss, Debbie JF Russell, Heike Weber, Vincent Janik
Journal of Comparative Physiology A: Neuroethology, Sensory, Neural, and Behavioral Physiology 2016 vol. 202 pp. 859-868
Avoidance of wind farms by harbour seals is limited to pile driving activities Debbie JF Russell, Gordon Drummond Hastie, David Thompson, Vincent Janik, Philip Steven Hammond, Lindesay Alexandra Sarah Scott-Hayward, Jason Matthiopoulos, Esther Lane Jones, Bernie J McConnell
Journal of Applied Ecology 2016 vol. 53 pp. 1642-1652
Dynamic habitat corridors for marine predators Gordon Drummond Hastie, Debbie JF Russell, Steven Benjamins, Simon Moss, Ben Wilson, David Thompson
Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 2016 vol. 70 pp. 2161–2174
Investigations into the interactions between harbour seals (Phoca vitulina) and vessels in the inner Moray Firth Joseph Alistair Ross Onoufriou, Esther Lane Jones, Gordon Drummond Hastie, David Thompson

Contact Details:

Dr Gordon Hastie
Scottish Oceans Institute
East Sands
University of St Andrews
St Andrews
KY16 8LB

tel: 01334 467206
room: 2.06


Sea Mammal Research Unit
School of Biology
Scottish Oceans Institute
Marine Alliance for Science and Technology Scotland

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