Roseate Tern (Photo: Peter Paton)
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Resources > Collaborative research groups > Atlantic Offshore Wind

Development of Monitoring Protocols and Guidance for Automated Radio Telemetry Studies at Offshore Wind Farms

Project team

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS): Pam Loring (contact: pamela_loring[AT]fws[DOT]gov)
  • Biodiversity Research Institute (BRI): Evan Adams, Andrew Gilbert, Kate Williams
  • University of Rhode Island (URI): Doug Gobeille, Erik Carlson
  • Applied Physics Systems, LLC: Rob Deluca
  • Birds Canada (BC): Stuart Mackenzie, Lucas Berrigan


The goal of this project was to develop standardized protocols for using the Motus Wildlife Tracking System (Motus) to monitor birds and bats in offshore environments in the Atlantic region of North America in relation to planned offshore wind energy development.

About the project

Motus station on a buoy (Iain Stenhouse) While Motus is well-established for use in terrestrial systems, it has only recently begun to expand into marine environments. With funding from New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), the project team from USFWS, BRI, URI, and BC developed a series of interrelated products to guide and inform the deployment of automated radio telemetry technology in relation to offshore wind energy development in the U.S. Atlantic.

The products were developed with input from stakeholders and draft protocols were field tested with industry partners on offshore wind turbines and monitoring buoys at several sites throughout the U.S. Atlantic. Materials from all stakeholder meetings, including agendas, presentations, and meeting summary reports, are available online from BRI. The final report for the project is available online from BRI and NYSERDA. Final products were released to the public in 2023 and are available at the links below. The products are intended to be living documents that are updated as new information and technology becomes available. Motus Station on a Turbine (Iain Stenhouse)

Guidance for Deploying Motus Stations on Offshore Wind Turbines and Buoys

The Guidance Document describes technical specifications for deploying and operating Motus stations on offshore structures to obtain site-specific data on the movements of tagged animals (birds, bats, and insects) through offshore wind project areas. The Guidance Document, appendices, and supplementary materials describe responsibilities and actions of station operators to set up, calibrate, maintain, and report data from offshore Motus stations.

The following supplemental materials are provided in a printer-ready format to assist station operators with collecting metadata and routine maintenance information in the field following minimum data standards for offshore Motus stations.

Station Calibration Tool

The calibration data analysis tool serves three primary functions to simplify the calibration data workflow and standardize reporting of results from offshore Motus stations: survey planning, data analysis, and automated reporting. The survey planning functions can be used to generate standardized transect lines for targeted calibration surveys and provides a standardized metadata sheet for use in the field. The data analysis and reporting functions use input data from calibration surveys to report signal strength versus radial distance of detection data and generates summary statistics including the number of detections per antenna and the detection range of each antenna.

Study Design Tool and Simulation Study

A free online tool, “Informing the Design and Implementation of Offshore Motus Systems (IDIOMS),” is available to help users optimize site-specific Motus study designs at offshore wind energy facilities. This includes identification of the number and locations of receiving stations necessary to cover a given offshore wind energy project area, relative to factors such as the project size and configuration, key species, question of interest, and specific Motus technology used (e.g., 166.380 MHz versus 434 MHz). Results from the tool are summarized in automated reports that contain key information on study design that offshore Motus monitoring studies should include as standardized elements in post-construction monitoring plans. Users can also download outputs in a variety of file types to use in further mapping and analysis (e.g., R data files, shapefiles, csv). A simulation study was also conducted to inform IDIOMS and monitoring recommendations by estimating detection probability of select avian taxa moving through simulated arrays of Motus stations within wind energy project areas.

Offshore Motus Data Framework

The Offshore Motus Data Framework describes workflows within Motus to coordinate, archive, and serve tag detection data, station data, standardized metadata, and summary reports. The Framework established an Atlantic Offshore Wind Group within the Motus Wildlife Tracking System’s online database to coordinate information among projects collecting data for offshore wind applications in the Atlantic region of North America.

Monitoring Framework for Automated Radio Telemetry at Offshore Wind Projects in the U.S. Atlantic

The Monitoring Framework provides a comprehensive overview of using Motus to track birds and bats offshore and to inform research, monitoring, and assessments of offshore wind energy projects in the Atlantic region of North America.


This study was funded by NYSERDA and overseen by project managers Kate McClellan Press and Greg Lampman. It is led and coordinated by USFWS and conducted in partnership with co-leads from BRI, URI, and BC. We thank members of the Project Advisory Committee (PAC) and other attendees at stakeholder workshops throughout 2021 and 2022, as well as Julia Gulka, Ed Jenkins, Iain Stenhouse, and Eleanor Eckel (BRI); Scott Johnston, Suzanne Paton, Michelle Scarfo, Laurie Racine and Donna Walton (USFWS); Juliet Lamb and Scott Comings (The Nature Conservancy); Emily Shumchenia and Zara Dowling (Regional Wildlife Science Collaborative), Block Island Wind Farm (Orsted), Lisa Nolan (Southeast Lighthouse Foundation); Peter Paton and Brett Still (URI); Tom Halavik, Nathan Fueller, and Rhode Island Civil Air Patrol. Any use of trade, firm, or product names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the US Government. The findings and conclusions in these products are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the views of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
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