Cormac Booth

Cormac Booth

Principal Scientist & Director of Business Development (Europe)


Lead scientist and project manager for multiple projects involving investigating the potential impacts of anthopogenic stressors on marine mammal species. Main scientific interests include marine mammal foraging ecology, energetics and understanding the Population Consequences of Disturbance (PCoD). Cormac also provides specialist advice on Passive Acoustic Monitoring (PAM), statistical modelling, analysis into EIA’s (noise and marine mammals) and provide advice for mitigation studies relating to impacts on cetaceans.

Degrees and Education

  • 2010 University of St Andrews PhD Biology: Variation in distribution and habitat preference of harbour porpoises west of Scotland
  • 2003 University of Aberdeen MSc Marine and Fisheries Science
  • 2001 University of Wales, Aberystwyth BSc: Marine and Freshwater Biology

Skills and Expertise

Statistical analysis (R – GEEs, GAMs, GLMs), PAM monitoring (PAMBuoy, PAMGUARD, CPODs, TPODs), Databases (MS Access); Word processing (MS Word); Spreadsheets (MS Excel), MMO, GIS (Manifold & ArcGIS), Acoustic analysis (MATLAB), Photo Identification projects.


Cormac Booth has been working in the field of marine mammal biology since 2000, both in the UK and abroad, in the laboratory and in the field. He has extensive experience in marine mammal biology, statistics and acoustics (in particular static and towed passive acoustic monitoring techniques and robust modelling approaches). Cormac has developed unique PAM mitigation approaches used on UK marine development sites and analysed extensive acoustic datasets. He has been the Principal Investigator and/or Project Manager for the interim Population Consequences of Disturbance (PCoD) framework project, and numerous PCoD projects for the UK, Canadian, Dutch & USA regulatory bodies and the Office of Naval Research. He has also managed projects spanning a range of sectors and expertise and coordinated teams of diverse expertise to complete objectives. His expertise and experience span:

  • Assessing anthropogenic impacts on marine mammals: Via working on the initial development, application and evolution of the interim PCOD framework – investigating how the potential impacts of disturbance can be robustly assessed.
  • Distribution and Ecology of Cetaceans: A range of habitat modelling and GIS techniques and conducting visual and towed-acoustic, line-transect surveys to study habitat preferences and distribution of harbour porpoise.
  • Marine Mammal Monitoring & Mitigation: Prior to, and during his time with SMRU Consulting, Cormac has worked on several projects developing suitable monitoring and mitigation methods to meet regulatory standards and enabling industry to develop sustainably. He is the scientist responsible for the delivery of several commercial projects involving the use of PAM to monitor cetaceans. Also has extensive experience of conducting and analysing the data generated from different marine mammal monitoring and survey approaches.
  • Booth, C.G. 2019. Food for thought: Harbor porpoise foraging behavior and diet inform vulnerability to disturbance. Marine Mammal Science. doi/abs/10.1111/mms.12632
  • Wilson, L.W., Harwood, J., Booth C.G. & Harris, C.M. Harris. 2019. A decision framework to identify populations that are most vulnerable to the population level effects of disturbance. Conservation Science and Practice, e149.
  • Pirotta, E., Booth, C.G., D. P. Costa, E. Fleishman, S. D. Kraus, D. Lusseau, D. Moretti, L. F. New, R. S. Schick, and L. K. Schwarz. 2018. Understanding the population consequences of disturbance. Ecology and Evolution. doi/full/10.1002/ece3.4458.
  • Thomas, L., Booth, C.G., Rosel, PE., Hohn, A., Litz, J. & Schwacke, LH. (2017). Where were they from? Modelling the source stock of dolphins stranded after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill using genetic and stable isotope data. Endangered Species Research Vol. 33: 253-264.
  • Booth, C.G., Oedekoven, C.S., Gillespie, D., Macaulay, J., Plunkett, R, Joy, R., Harris, D., Wood, J., Marques, T.A.,  Marshall,  L.,  Verfuss,  U.K.,  Tyack,  P.  Johnson,  M.,  &  Thomas,  L. 2017. Assessing  the  Viability  of  Density Estimation  for  Cetaceans  from Passive Acoustic  Fixed Sensors throughout  the  Life  Cycle  of  an  Offshore  E&P Field  Development. Report  number: SMRUC-OGP-2017-001.  Submitted  to IOGP Sound  and  Marine  Life  Joint Industry Programme (Unpublished).
  • Booth, C.G., Plunkett, R & Harwood, J. 2017. Identifying Monitoring Priorities for Population Consequences of Disturbance – Interim Report. Report Code SMRUC-ONR-2017-017, submitted to the Office of Naval Research – Marine Mammal & Biology program, Nov 2017 (unpublished).
  • Booth, C.G., Harwood, J., Plunkett, R., Mendes, S. & Walker, R. (2017). Using the Interim PCoD framework to assess the potential impacts of offshore wind developments in Eastern English Waters on harbour porpoises in the North Sea. Natural England Joint Report, Number 024 York.
  • Booth, C.G. (2016). The Challenge of Using Passive Acoustic Monitoring in High Energy Environments: UK Tidal Environments and Other Case Studies. Popper, A.N. and A. Hawkins. (Eds), The Effects of Noise on Aquatic Life II. Springer, New York.
  • Booth, C.G, Donovan, C., Plunkett, R & Harwood, J. 2016. Using an interim PCoD protocol to assess the effects of disturbance associated with us navy exercises on marine mammal populations: Final Report. Report code SMRUC-ONR-2016-004, submitted to the Office of Naval Research – Marine Mammal & Biology program, February 2016 (unpublished).
  • Harwood, J. & Booth, C.G. 2016. The application of an interim PCoD (PCoD Lite) protocol and its extension to other marine mammal populations and sites. Final Report. Report code SMRUC-ONR-2016-004, submitted to the Office of Naval Research – Marine Mammal & Biology program, February 2016 (unpublished).
  • Donovan, C., Harwood, J, King, S., Booth, C., Caneco, B., & Walker, C. (2016). Expert elicitation methods in quantifying the consequences of acoustic disturbance from offshore renewable energy developments.  In: Popper A.N., Hawkins A.D. (eds) Effects of Noise on Aquatic Life II. Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology 875, DOI 10.1007/978-1-4939-2981-8_27. Springer, New York
  • King, S. L., Schick, R. S., Donovan, C., Booth, C. G., Burgman, M., Thomas, L., & Harwood, J. (2015). An interim framework for assessing the population consequences of disturbance. Methods in Ecology and Evolution doi:10.1111/2041-210X.12411
  • Booth C.G., Embling C., Gordon J., Calderan S.V., Hammond P.S. 2013. Habitat preferences and distribution of the harbour porpoise (Phocoena phocoena) west of Scotland. Marine Ecology-Progress Series 478:273-285.
  • Booth, C.G., Lacey, C., Hastie, G.D. 2011. Interim Report – July 2011 – Static acoustic monitoring of harbour porpoise and dolphins at the proposed jetty construction site – Hinkley. SMRU Ltd Interim Report to CEFAS. July 2011.
  • Booth, C. G. Impacts of Commercial Aquaculture Acoustic Devices on harbour porpoises west of Scotland. Chapter of PhD Thesis. Department of Biology. Scottish Oceans Institute. University of St Andrews.

Key Projects

  • Population Consequences of Disturbance  – Project manager and PI/Co-PI for a series of projects involving the development of PCoD models (clients include: UK regulators and SNCBs; Office of Naval Research; Netherlands Min. Environment & NOAA.). Most recent work has focused on better understanding the data gaps in PCoD, energetic pathways relating to disturbance, integrating across different spatial and temporal scales from behavioural changes through to population level effects.
  • Expert elicitation – Lead in the development and uses of expert elicitation techniques for addressing critical knowledge gaps for marine issues.
  • Queensferry Crossing Monitoring & Mitigation – Delivered marine mammal mitigation and 3 years of continuous underwater noise monitoring and mitigation during the construction of the Forth Replacement (Queensferry) Crossing using a novel PAMBuouy (now Decimus) system.
  • Monitoring the population consequence of disturbance –  Advancing our knowledge of the most viable approaches to monitoring for and detecting (where occurring) changes in marine mammal populations.
  • Strangford Lough monitoring – Processed and analysed a six year PAM dataset and conducted GAM GEE model analyses to determine patterns of harbour porpoise vocalisation on the site.

Project list also includes:

  • PCoD East of England CIA
  • PCoD Netherlands CIA
  • PCoD Lite ONR
  • Aquatera Impact Tool
  • Suffolk Nuclear Power Station
  • Minesto Holyhead Deep EIA
  • Minesto Strangford Lough Demonstration Site
  • Invergordon PAM Monitoring

+44 (0)1314 638555

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