Energy & Wildlife

Home

Programs L2 Landing Page

Interest is booming in renewable energy sources, especially in the areas of wind, solar, and biofuels. Such energy sources have huge benefits, including diversification of the nation’s energy portfolio, new jobs, and potential reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. Yet these energy sources sometimes have adverse effects on ecosystems and wildlife.

Our Research Portfolio

Our Research Portfolio

USGS has over 100 research projects designed to help understand and reduce potential negative interactions of wildlife with energy development.

Learn more

America's Last Grasslands

America

Which prairie flowers are best for bees? USGS scientists and partners are studying the effects of biofuel production on pollinators.

Read More

Research by Species

USGS supports the U.S. goal to increase energy production from renewable sources by conducting research into minimizing or mitigating any negative effects of the expanding energy infrastructure on wildlife.

Bats

Condors

Eagles

Grassland and Wetland Birds

Seabirds

Desert Tortoise

Pollinators

Learn More

News

Date published: April 16, 2018

Flight Response of California Condors to Inform Risk from Wind Turbines

Large soaring birds rely on topographic and weather conditions also preferred by wind facility developers.

Date published: March 9, 2018

Raptor Interactions with Wind Energy: Case Studies from Around the

Attempts to measure and mitigate the effects of wind turbines on wildlife have been an integral part of wind energy development.

Date published: July 27, 2016

Videos Reveal Birds, Bats and Bugs near Solar Project Power Towers

Video surveillance is the most effective method for detecting animals flying around solar power towers, according to a study of various techniques by the U.S. Geological Survey and its partners at the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System facility in southeastern California.

As our nation’s energy portfolio continues to grow, it is critical that energy development be guided by the best science available to ensure the coexistence of new power technologies and wildlife. USGS is in a unique position to provide that science through focused research on three main goals: understanding risks, measuring impacts, and developing solutions.

Find out more
Filter Total Items: 18
Date published: December 27, 2017
Status: Active

Regional Patterns of Relationship of Bat Activity to Environmental Conditions

We are exploring models that relate measures of bat activity to environmental conditions, such as weather, moon phase, and day of year.

Contacts: Manuela M Huso
Date published: December 27, 2017
Status: Active

Relationship of Bat Fatality to Activity in the Rotor-Swept Zone

We are conducting daily fatality searches for bat carcasses in order to relate fatality pattern to measures of bat activity, as well as to daily environmental conditions - such as weather, moon phase, and day of year.

Contacts: Manuela M Huso
Date published: December 22, 2017
Status: Active

Estimating the Abundance of an Animal Population When the Total Observed Count is Zero

We are developing the theoretical statistical framework that would allow inference from known search effort and detectability parameters regarding estimated fatality when there are no or few observed carcasses. In addition, we are developing software that resource managers as well as developers can use to design fatality monitoring protocols optimized for different objectives.

Date published: December 22, 2017
Status: Active

Density Weighting

We are investigating ways to accurately estimate this fraction in order to improve the accuracy of estimates and the efficiency of searching.

Date published: December 22, 2017
Status: Active

A General Estimator of Wildlife Fatality from Count Data

We are creating an estimator that allows a more general parameterization of carcass arrival and persistence times, while accommodating the different assumptions regarding the likelihood that a carcass is observed.

Contacts: Manuela M Huso, David Dail
Date published: December 22, 2017
Status: Active

Fatality Estimation Software

We are developing publicly available open-source software that uses data provided by the user to estimate the probability that a searcher will miss a carcass and the probability that a carcass will be removed before a searcher has the opportunity to observe it. The estimates are combined with the observed casualties and an estimate of the fraction of the population of killed animals expected...

Contacts: Manuela M Huso, Nick Som, Lew Ladd
Date published: November 28, 2017
Status: Active

FRESC Wind Energy and Wildlife Team

The Team's research is organized into two major themes: 1) applied statistical methods and tools, which includes fatality estimation software; and 2) effects of wind energy development on wildlife, particularly bats.

Click on the Related Science tab for more information.

The team is affiliated with the FRESC Snake River Research Station, but work out of the FRESC Corvallis office...

Contacts: Manuela M Huso
Date published: October 27, 2016

Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative: Inventory and Long-Term Monitoring

The Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative (WLCI) addresses effects of land-use and climate changes on Southwest Wyoming’s natural resources. In partnership with twelve Federal, State, and local natural resource agencies, and non-governmental organizations– FORT and ten other USGS centers are conducting dozens of integrated science projects to assess the status of Southwest Wyoming’s...

Date published: October 27, 2016

Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative: Mechanistic Studies of Wildlife

The Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative (WLCI) addresses effects of land-use and climate changes on Southwest Wyoming’s natural resources. In partnership with twelve Federal, State, and local natural resource agencies, and non-governmental organizations– FORT and ten other USGS centers are conducting dozens of integrated science projects to assess the status of Southwest Wyoming’s...

Date published: October 27, 2016

Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative: Baseline Synthesis

The Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative (WLCI) addresses effects of land-use and climate changes on Southwest Wyoming’s natural resources. In partnership with twelve Federal, State, and local natural resource agencies, and non-governmental organizations– FORT and ten other USGS centers are conducting dozens of integrated science projects to assess the status of Southwest Wyoming’s...

Date published: October 27, 2016

Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative: Effectiveness Monitoring

The Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative (WLCI) addresses effects of land-use and climate changes on Southwest Wyoming’s natural resources. In partnership with twelve Federal, State, and local natural resource agencies, and non-governmental organizations– FORT and ten other USGS centers are conducting dozens of integrated science projects to assess the status of Southwest Wyoming’s...

Date published: September 1, 2016
Status: Active

The Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative (WLCI)

The Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative (WLCI) addresses effects of land-use and climate changes on Southwest Wyoming’s natural resources. In partnership with twelve Federal, State, and local natural resource agencies, and non-governmental organizations– FORT and ten other USGS centers are conducting dozens of integrated science projects to assess the status of Southwest Wyoming’s...

USGS scientists collect data and develop tools and techniques to minimize potential negative effects of new energy development.Monitoring protocols and habitat-use models are providing the basis for understanding how wildlife can be affected by energy development, supporting permitting and siting of new facilities, and guiding strategies for mitigation.

Learn more
Filter Total Items: 1
Date published: May 2, 2016

Evidence of Absence Webinar

This video describes a statistical software package called "Evidence of Absence" that can be used to provide evidence of compliance with incidental take permits. It will be useful to wildlife managers and wind energy operators to estimate, with reasonable certainty, that a certain number of birds or bats have been killed at wind energy facilities, even when no carcasses are found.

Filter Total Items: 39
Year Published: 2016

U.S. Geological Survey—Energy and Wildlife Research Annual Report for 2016

Recent growth and development of renewable energy and unconventional oil and gas extraction are rapidly diversifying the energy supply of the United States. Yet, as our Nation works to advance energy security and conserve wildlife, some conflicts have surfaced. To address these challenges, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) is conducting innovative...

Khalil, Mona
Khalil, Mona, ed., 2016, U.S. Geological Survey—Energy and Wildlife Research Annual Report for 2016: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2016–1147, 59 p., http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/ofr20161147.

Year Published: 2016

Renewable energy and wildlife conservation

The renewable energy sector is rapidly expanding and diversifying the power supply of the country. Yet, as our Nation works to advance renewable energy and to conserve wildlife, some conflicts arise. To address these challenges, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) is conducting innovative research and developing workable solutions to reduce impacts...

Khalil, Mona
Khalil, Mona, 2016, Renewable energy and wildlife conservation: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2016-3067, 4 p., http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/fs20163067.

Year Published: 2016

Land-use change reduces habitat suitability for supporting managed honey bee colonies in the Northern Great Plains

Human reliance on insect pollination services continues to increase even as pollinator populations exhibit global declines. Increased commodity crop prices and federal subsidies for biofuel crops, such as corn and soybeans, have contributed to rapid land-use change in the US Northern Great Plains (NGP), changes that may jeopardize habitat for...

Otto, Clint R.; Roth, Cali; Carlson, Benjamin; Smart, Matthew
Otto, C. R. V., C. L. Roth, B. L. Carlson, and M. D. Smart. 2016. Land-use change reduces habitat suitability for supporting managed honey bee colonies in the Northern Great Plains. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Early edition online, 6p. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1603481113.

Year Published: 2016

Evaluating the effectiveness of wildlife detection and observation technologies at a solar power tower facility

Solar power towers produce electrical energy from sunlight at an industrial scale. Little is known about the effects of this technology on flying animals and few methods exist for automatically detecting or observing wildlife at solar towers and other tall anthropogenic structures. Smoking objects are sometimes observed co-occurring with reflected...

Diehl, Robert H.; Valdez, Ernest W.; Preston, Todd M.; Wellik, Mike J.; Cryan, Paul
Diehl RH, Valdez EW, Preston TM, Wellik MJ, Cryan PM (2016) Evaluating the effectiveness of wildlife detection and observation technologies at a solar power tower facility. PLoS ONE 11(7): e0158115. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0158115

Year Published: 2016

Impacts of climate change and renewable energy development on habitat of an endemic squirrel, Xerospermophilus mohavensis, in the Mojave Desert, USA

Predicting changes in species distributions under a changing climate is becoming widespread with the use of species distribution models (SDMs). The resulting predictions of future potential habitat can be cast in light of planned land use changes, such as urban expansion and energy development to identify areas with potential conflict. However,...

Inman, Richard D.; Esque, Todd C.; Nussear, Kenneth E.; Leitner, Philip; Matocq, Marjorie D.; Weisberg, Peter J.; Dilts, Thomas E.
Inman, RD, TC Esque, KE Nussear, P Leitner, MD Matocq, PJ Weisberg, TE Dilts. 2016. Impacts of climate change and renewable energy development on habitat of an endemic squirrel, Xerospermophilus mohavensis, in the Mojave Desert, USA. Biological Conservation 200: 112-121. doi: 10.1016/j.biocon.2016.05.033

Year Published: 2016

Mortality monitoring design for utility-scale solar power facilities

IntroductionSolar power represents an important and rapidly expanding component of the renewable energy portfolio of the United States (Lovich and Ennen, 2011; Hernandez and others, 2014). Understanding the impacts of renewable energy development on wildlife is a priority for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) in compliance with Department...

Huso, Manuela; Dietsch, Thomas; Nicolai, Chris
Huso, Manuela, Dietsch, Thomas, and Nicolai, Chris, 2016, Mortality monitoring design for utility-scale solar power facilities: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2016-1087, 44 p., http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/ofr20161087.

Year Published: 2016

Multi-scale connectivity and graph theory highlight critical areas for conservation under climate change

Conservation planning and biodiversity management require information on landscape connectivity across a range of spatial scales from individual home ranges to large regions. Reduction in landscape connectivity due changes in land-use or development is expected to act synergistically with alterations to habitat mosaic configuration arising from...

Dilts, Thomas E.; Weisberg, Peter J.; Leitner, Phillip; Matocq, Marjorie D.; Inman, Richard D.; Nussear, Ken E.; Esque, Todd C.
Dilts, TE, PJ Weisberg, P Leitner, MD Matocq, RD Inman, KE Nussear, TC Esque. 2016. Multi-scale connectivity and graph theory highlight critical areas for conservation under climate change. Ecological Applications. doi: 10.1890/15-0925

Year Published: 2016

Habitat selection by juvenile Mojave Desert tortoises

Growing pressure to develop public lands for renewable energy production places several protected species at increased risk of habitat loss. One example is the Mojave desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii), a species often at the center of conflicts over public land development. For this species and others on public lands, a better understanding of...

Todd, Brian D; Halstead, Brian J.; Chiquoine, Lindsay P.; Peaden, J. Mark; Buhlmann, Kurt A.; Tuberville, Tracey D.; Nafus, Melia G.
Todd, BD, BJ Halstead, LP Chiquoine, JM Peaden, KA Buhlmann, TD Tuberville, MG Nafus. 2016. Habitat selection by juvenile Mojave Desert tortoises. The Journal of Wildlife Management. doi: 10.1002/jwmg.1054

Year Published: 2016

Desert tortoise annotated bibliography, 1991-2015

Introduction Agassiz’s desert tortoise, Gopherus agassizii, was considered a single species for 150 years after its discovery by James Cooper (1861), with a geographic range extending from southeastern California, southern Nevada, and southwestern Utah southward into northern Sinaloa, Mexico (Murphy and others, 2011). What was once G....

Berry, Kristin H.; Lyren, Lisa M.; Mack, Jeremy S.; Brand, L. Arriana; Wood, Dustin A.
Berry, K.H., Lyren, L.M., Mack, J.S., Brand, L.A., and Wood, D.A., 2016, Desert tortoise annotated bibliography, 1991–2015: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2016-1023, 312 p., http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/ofr20161023.

Year Published: 2016

Effects of wind-energy facilities on grassland bird distributions

The contribution of renewable energy to meet worldwide demand continues to grow. Wind energy is one of the fastest growing renewable sectors, but new wind facilities are often placed in prime wildlife habitat. Long-term studies that incorporate a rigorous statistical design to evaluate the effects of wind facilities on wildlife are rare. We...

Shaffer, Jill A.; Buhl, Deb
Shaffer, J. A., and D. A. Buhl. 2015. Effects of wind-energy facilities on grassland bird distributions. Conservation Biology. DOI: 10.1111/cobi.12569 http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/cobi.12569/abstract

Year Published: 2015

Taxonomic characterization of honey bee (Apis mellifera) pollen foraging based on non-overlapping paired-end sequencing of nuclear ribosomal loci

Identifying plant taxa that honey bees (Apis mellifera) forage upon is of great apicultural interest, but traditional methods are labor intensive and may lack resolution. Here we evaluate a high-throughput genetic barcoding approach to characterize trap-collected pollen from multiple North Dakota apiaries across multiple years. We used the...

Cornman, Robert S.; Otto, Clint R.; Iwanowicz, Deborah; Pettis, Jeffery S
Cornman, R Scott; Otto, Clint RV; Iwanowicz, Deborah; Pettis, Jeffery S. Taxonomic Characterization of Honey Bee (Apis mellifera) Pollen Foraging Based on Non-Overlapping Paired-End Sequencing of Nuclear Ribosomal Loci. PLoS One 10.12: e0145365

Year Published: 2015

A framework for decision points to trigger adaptive management actions in long-term incidental take permits

Introduction The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has begun to issue incidental take permits (ITPs) to wind power companies to allow limited take of bird and bat species that are protected under the Endangered Species Act, the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, or the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (Huso and others, 2015). Expected take rates...

Dalthorp, Daniel; Huso, Manuela
Dalthorp, Daniel, and Huso, Manuela, 2015, A framework for decision points to trigger adaptive management actions in long-term incidental take permits: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2015-1227, 88 p., http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/ofr20151227.

Filter Total Items: 2
Date published: July 6, 2017

Evidence of Absence (EoA) Software and User's Guide

Software to Estimate Bird and Bat Fatality at Wind Farms

Date published: December 11, 2012

Fatality Estimator Software

Tool to Evaluate Wildlife Fatalities at Wind-Power Facilities

Filter Total Items: 11
USGS scientist Sarah Fitzgerald holds a surf scoter that has been fitted with a satellite tag.
December 31, 2017

USGS scientist holds a surf scoter that has been tagged.

USGS scientist Sarah Fitzgerald holds a surf scoter that has been fitted with a satellite tag that works by transmitting the location of the birds to satellites that are orbiting the Earth. (Jonathan Fiely, USGS)

Image from a remote camera placed in a golden eagle nest in the Mojave Desert.  The parent is feed the chick a snake.
December 31, 2017

Image from a remote camera placed in a golden eagle nest in the Mojave

Image from a remote camera placed in a golden eagle nest in the Mojave Desert.  The parent is feed the chick a snake.  

July 6, 2017

Wildlife on the Nevada National Security Site

Mountain lions, desert bighorn sheep, mule deer, and a variety of other wildlife live on and pass through the Nevada National Security Site each day. It’s a highly restricted area that is free of hunting and has surprisingly pristine areas.This 22-minute program highlights an extraordinary study on how mountain lions interact with their prey. It shows how the scientists use helicopters and...

Wind turbines at the Altamont Pass Wind Farm
September 8, 2016

Wind turbines at the Altamont Pass Wind Farm

The Altamont Pass Wind Far is located in northern California.

August 25, 2016

Eagle Tracking

Cell phone video of USGS biologist Diego Johnson releasing a golden eagle that had just been fitted with a tracking device.  The work is informing land managers on eagle movements in the southwest, an area of expanding renewable energy development.

August 23, 2016

Golden Eagle Flight

Golden eagles can be killed by colliding with a number of human-made objects, including wind turbines. USGS research wildlife biologist Todd Katzner describes his studies of golden eagle flight. This research is being done to model flight behavior which might help managers understand how placement of wind turbines might pose significant risks to golden eagles.

 

A female Agassiz's desert tortoise at Joshua Tree National Park
May 6, 2016

A female Agassiz's desert tortoise at Joshua Tree National Park

A female Agassiz's desert tortoise at Joshua Tree National Park lounges in the entrance of her burrow, wearing a USGS radio.

USGS scientist Dave Brandt holds a captured whooping crane .
December 6, 2011

USGS scientist holds a captured whooping crane.

USGS scientist Dave Brandt holds a captured whooping crane while Dr. Barry Hartup with the International Crane Foundation assesses the bird's health before marking.

December 31, 2009

Bats at Wind Turbines

Bats at Turbines (B-roll): Surveillance video (B-roll) from a temperature-imaging camera showing a bat interacting with a wind turbine at about 3 a.m. on a brightly moonlit night in late August.[video resolution 614 by 454 pixels, limited by imaging device]

Filter Total Items: 4
Date published: April 16, 2018

Flight Response of California Condors to Inform Risk from Wind Turbines

Large soaring birds rely on topographic and weather conditions also preferred by wind facility developers.

Date published: March 9, 2018

Raptor Interactions with Wind Energy: Case Studies from Around the

Attempts to measure and mitigate the effects of wind turbines on wildlife have been an integral part of wind energy development.

Date published: July 27, 2016

Videos Reveal Birds, Bats and Bugs near Solar Project Power Towers

Video surveillance is the most effective method for detecting animals flying around solar power towers, according to a study of various techniques by the U.S. Geological Survey and its partners at the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System facility in southeastern California.

Date published: May 6, 2016

Happy Mother’s Day to Moms of All Species

USGS wishes to honor all mothers, of all species. Many of our research findings have and are shedding light on the lives of non-human moms.