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Energy development is booming across the United States, helping to secure plentiful energy to meet our nation’s needs.  Yet energy generation can sometimes have adverse effects on ecosystems and wildlife. USGS scientists are studying the effects of energy infrastructure on wildlife, and are working to develop the technical and management options that can reduce risks to wildlife and industry.

Our Research Portfolio

Our Research Portfolio

USGS projects are designed to help understand and reduce potential negative interactions of fish and wildlife with energy development.

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Informing Solutions

Informing Solutions

Can we make wind power more compatible with wildlife? A story about Hawaii’s only native land mammal, the ōpe‘ape‘a, and wind energy in Hawaii.

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Annual Report

Annual Report

USGS conducts research on species impacted by energy development and develops methods to minimize negative effects to species and habitats.

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News

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.

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Filter Total Items: 20
Date published: April 26, 2019
Status: Active

Exploring the potential effects of shale oil and gas development on freshwaters

Widespread shale oil and gas (unconventional oil and gas, UOG) has only recently begun and many gaps in our knowledge of its potential effects to freshwaters exist. We conducted several studies aimed at filling these gaps, providing data on the rates and volumes of materials spilled, proximity of spills to important ecosystems, and overall production of wastes. These data together with current...

Date published: March 12, 2019
Status: Active

A Generalized Estimator for Estimating Bird and Bat Mortality at Renewable Energy Facilities - GenEst

GenEst - One estimator for accurate bird and bat fatality estimates

Contacts: Daniel Dalthorp, Manuela M Huso, Paul Rabie
Date published: October 26, 2018
Status: Active

Abbreviations

Projects in the Energy and Wildlife program use many abbreviations to describe partners, equipment, and places. The list below gives the abbreviation and full name of the abbreviations used throughout the Energy and Wildlife program website.

Contacts: Mona Khalil
Date published: August 28, 2018
Status: Active

Statistical Tools for Wind and Solar Energy Development and Operations

Solar and wind power development is increasing exponentially in the United States. However, these energy sources may affect wildlife, either directly from collisions with the turbine blades or photovoltaic arrays or indirectly from loss of habitat and migration routes. An important component to understanding the effects of these renewable energy projects on wildlife is accurate and precise...

Date published: August 1, 2018
Status: Active

Scientific Support of Salmon and Steelhead Reintroductions in Impounded River Basins of the Pacific Northwest

Salmon and steelhead populations in the Pacific Northwest were severely affected by hydropower development that occurred during the first half of the 20th century.  Impassable dams were constructed on many rivers throughout the region which prevented returning adult salmonids from accessing important habitats where spawning and rearing historically occurred.  In the past two decades...

Contacts: Tobias J Kock
Date published: November 28, 2017
Status: Active

Wind Energy and Wildlife Team (FRESC)

FRESC's Wind Energy and Wildlife Team is lead by Manuela Huso. She and her team are involved in design and analysis of post-construction fatality monitoring studies as well as deterrent and curtailment studies at several wind-power generation facilities.

Contacts: Manuela M Huso
Date published: November 13, 2017
Status: Active

Interaction between Energy Development and Raptors

Energy production has become essential for modern society. At the same time, this process can have negative effects on wildlife and ecosystems. It is in the best interest of society and the environment to understand these effects and to manage and mitigate for them. Our team focuses on measuring how energy development influences birds of prey and learning how to minimize negative influences....

Contacts: Todd E Katzner
Date published: November 6, 2017
Status: Active

Conservation Ecology and Monitoring of Raptors

Raptors, or birds of prey, are often used to indicate the state of an ecosystem, and monitoring their populations can help us to understand ecosystem processes. Raptors are particularly good animals for monitoring because they are big and therefore charismatic and easy to observe. Whether we’re monitoring nesting biology and reproductive output, counting individuals on roads, or setting up...

Contacts: Todd E Katzner
Date published: March 16, 2017
Status: Active

Energy development and the airspace

Today, the alternative energy and telecommunications industries are developing the airspace much the way metropolitan growth and mechanized agriculture develop the landscape. NOROCK scientists and partners are using both historical and traditional technologies in new and innovative ways to observe wildlife behaviors in response to these changing habitats.

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...

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.

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Filter Total Items: 2
Date published: September 7, 2018

Statistical Tools for Wind and Solar Energy Development and Operations

Solar and wind power development is increasing exponentially in the United States. However, these energy sources may affect wildlife, either directly from collisions with the turbine blades or photovoltaic arrays or indirectly from loss of habitat and migration routes. An important component to understanding the effects of these renewable energy projects on wildlife is accurate and precise...

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: 352
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Year Published: 2019

An improved mechanical owl for efficient capture of nesting raptors

Scientific study of raptors often requires the use of a lure to capture individuals for marking or collecting various data and samples. Live lure owls in the genus Bubo are commonly used with mist nets or dho-gazas to trap nesting raptors, but the use of these live lures presents ethical, logistical, and financial challenges. Although...

Jensen, Meghan K.; Hamburg, Shanti D.; Rota, Christopher T.; Brinker, David F.; Coles, Dustin L.; Manske, Mark A.; Slabe, Vincent A.; Stuber, Matthew J.; Welsh, Amy B.; Katzner, Todd E.

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Year Published: 2019

Assessing the impact of the Conservation Reserve Program on honey bee health

Insect pollinators are critically important for maintaining U.S. food production and ecosystem health. The upper Midwest is home to more than 40 percent of all U.S. honey bee colonies and is considered by many beekeepers to be America’s last beekeeping refuge. Beekeepers come to this region because their honey bees require high-quality grassland...

Otto, Clint R. V.
Otto, C.R.V., 2018, Assessing the impact of the Conservation Reserve Program on honey bee health: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2018–3082, 2 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/fs20183082.

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Year Published: 2019

Distance models as a tool for modelling detection probability and density of native bumblebees

Effective monitoring of native bee populations requires accurate estimates of population size and relative abundance among habitats. Current bee survey methods, such as netting or pan trapping, may be adequate for a variety of study objectives but are limited by a failure to account for imperfect detection. Biases due to imperfect detection could...

McNeil, Darin J.; Otto, Clint R. V.; Moser, Erin L.; Urban-Mead, Katherine R.; King, David E.; Rodewald, Amanda D.; Larkin, Jeffrey L.

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Year Published: 2018

Emerging themes from the ESA symposium entitled “Pollinator nutrition: Lessons from bees at individual to landscape levels”

No abstract available.

Corby-Harris, Vanessa; Bowsher, Julia H.; Carr-Markell, Morgan; Carroll, Mark J.; Centrella, Mary; Cook, Steven C.; Couvillon, Margaret; DeGrandi-Hoffman, Gloria; Dolezal, Adam; Jones, Julia C.; Mogren, Christina; Otto, Clint R. V.; Lau, Pierre; Rangel, Juliana; Schurch, Roger; St. Clair, Ashley

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Year Published: 2018

Occupancy modeling species–environment relationships with non‐ignorable survey designs

Statistical models supporting inferences about species occurrence patterns in relation to environmental gradients are fundamental to ecology and conservation biology. A common implicit assumption is that the sampling design is ignorable and does not need to be formally accounted for in analyses. The analyst assumes data are representative of the...

Irvine, Kathryn M.; Rodhouse, Thomas J.; Wright, Wilson J.; Olsen, Anthony R.
Irvine, KM, Rodhouse, TJ, Wright, WJ, Olsen, AR. 2018. Occupancy modeling species-environment relationships with non-ignorable survey designs. Ecological Applications. 28(6):1616-1625.

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Year Published: 2018

Collision and displacement vulnerability to offshore wind energy infrastructure among marine birds of the Pacific Outer Continental Shelf

Marine birds are vulnerable to collision with and displacement by offshore wind energy infrastructure (OWEI). Here we present the first assessment of marine bird vulnerability to potential OWEI in the California Current System portion of the U.S. Pacific Outer Continental Shelf (POCS). Using population size, demography, life history,...

Kelsey, Emily C.; Felis, Jonathan J.; Czapanskiy, Max; Peresksta, David M.; Adams, Josh
Emma C. Kelsey, Jonathan J. Felis, Max Czapanskiy, David M. Pereksta, Josh Adams, Collision and displacement vulnerability to offshore wind energy infrastructure among marine birds of the Pacific Outer Continental Shelf, Journal of Environmental Management, Volume 227, 2018, Pages 229-247, ISSN 0301-4797, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvman.2018.08.051.

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Year Published: 2018

U.S. Geological Survey energy and wildlife research annual report for 2018

USGS scientists provide scientific information and options that land and resource managers and private industries can use to make decisions regarding the development of energy resources while protecting the health of ecosystems. Studies focus on delivering information to avoid, minimize, or mitigate the impacts of energy infrastructure on fish and...

Khalil, Mona
Khalil, Mona, ed., 2018, U.S. Geological Survey energy and wildlife research annual report for 2018 (ver. 1.1, October 2018): U.S. Geological Survey Circular 1447, 102 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/cir1447.

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Year Published: 2018

State‐space modelling of the flight behaviour of a soaring bird provides new insights to migratory strategies

Characterising the spatiotemporal variation of animal behaviour can elucidate the way individuals interact with their environment and allocate energy. Increasing sophistication of tracking technologies paired with novel analytical approaches allows the characterisation of movement dynamics even when an individual is not directly observable.In this...

Pirotta, Enrico; Katzner, Todd E.; Miller, Tricia A.; Duerr, Adam E.; Braham, Melissa A.; New, Leslie

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Year Published: 2018

Elevated aeolian sediment transport on the Colorado Plateau, USA: The role of grazing, vehicle disturbance, and increasing aridity

Dryland wind transport of sediment can accelerate soil erosion, degrade air quality, mobilize dunes, decrease water supply, and damage infrastructure. We measured aeolian sediment horizontal mass flux (q) at 100 cm height using passive aspirated sediment traps to better understand q variability on the Colorado Plateau. Measured q‘...

Nauman, Travis W.; Duniway, Michael C.; Webb, Nichloas P.; Belnap, Jayne
Nauman, T.W., Duniway, M.C., Webb, N.P., and Belnap, J., 2018, Elevated aeolian sediment transport on the Colorado Plateau, USA-- the role of grazing, vehicle disturbance, and increasing aridity: Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, online, https://doi.org/10.1002/esp.4457.

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Year Published: 2018

Field evaluation of carbon dioxide as a fish deterrent at a water management structure along the Illinois River

Construction of a water management structure (WMS) in the levee surrounding The Nature Conservancy’s Emiquon Preserve (Havana, Illinois, USA) created a new hydrological connection and potential aquatic invasive species pathway between the Illinois River and a large conservation wetland complex. Site managers need a control tool that deters the...

Cupp, Aaron R.; Smerud, Justin R.; Tix, John A.; Schleis, Susan M.; Fredricks, Kim T.; Erickson, Richard A.; Amberg, Jon J.; Morrow, William S.; Koebel, Carolyn M.; Murphy, Elizabeth A.; Vishy, Chad; Blodgett, K. Douglas
Cupp, A.R., Smerud, J.R., Tix, J.A., Schleis, S.M., Fredricks, K.T., Erickson, R.A., Amberg, J.J., Morrow, W.S., Koebel, C., Murphy, E.A., Vishy, C., Blodget, K.D. 2018. Field evaluation of carbon dioxide as a fish deterrent at a water management structure on the Illinois River. Management of Biological Invasions. 9(3):299-308. DOI: 10.3391/mbi.2018.9.3.12.

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Year Published: 2018

Broad‐scale occurrence of a subsidized avian predator: reducing impacts of ravens on sage‐grouse and other sensitive prey

Expanding human enterprise across remote environments impacts numerous wildlife species. Anthropogenic resources provide subsidies for generalist predators that can lead to cascading effects on prey species at lower trophic levels. A fundamental challenge for applied ecologists is to disentangle natural and anthropogenic influences on species...

O'Neil, Shawn T.; Coates, Peter S.; Brussee, Brianne E.; Jackson, Pat J.; Howe, Kristy B.; Moser, Ann M.; Foster, Lee J.; Delehanty, David J.
O'Neil, S. T., Coates, P. S., Brussee, B. E., Jackson, P. J., Howe, K. B., Moser, A. M., Foster, L. J. and Delehanty, D. J. (2018), Broad‐scale occurrence of a subsidized avian predator: reducing impacts of ravens on sage‐grouse and other sensitive prey. J Appl Ecol. Accepted Author Manuscript. . doi:10.1111/1365-2664.13249

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Year Published: 2018

The influence of spatiotemporally decoupled land use on honey bee colony health and pollination service delivery

Societal dependence on insects for pollination of agricultural crops has risen amidst concerns over pollinator declines. Habitat loss and lack of forage have been implicated in the decline of both managed and native pollinators. Land use changes in the Northern Great Plains of the US, a region supporting over 1 million honey bee colonies...

Smart, Matthew; Otto, Clint R. V.; Carlson, Benjamin; Roth, Cali L.
Matthew D Smart et al 2018 Environ. Res. Lett. 13 084016

Software related to the Energy and Wildlife Program is listed below.

Filter Total Items: 3
Date published: October 19, 2018

GenEst - A Generalized Estimator of Mortality

GenEst, a generalized estimator of wildlife mortality at renewable energy facilities.

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

Multimedia related to the Energy and Wildlife Program are listed below.

Filter Total Items: 17
USGS presentation title slide for GenEst, A Generalized Estimator of Mortality
December 21, 2018

Slide 1 26Nov2018 NWCC GenEst Workshop

Opening slide for the Intro to GenEst, A Generalized Estimator of Mortality, Workshop held at the National Wind Coordinating Collaborative's Wind Wildlife Research Meeting XII on November 26, 2018 in St. Paul Minnesota. https://www.nationalwind.org/meetings/wind-wildlife-research-meeting-

...
Array of photovoltaic cells and a wind energy facility
August 28, 2018

Array of photovoltaic cells and a wind energy facility

Photovoltaic, or solar, cells array at the Ivanpah Solar Power Facility in the Mojave Desert and a wind energy facility in the Northeastern United States.

Image of scientist setting up a radar system in Colorado to test its efficacy in detecting birds and bats flying towards turbine
August 1, 2018

Setting up radar system near a wind energy field in Colorado.

Image of scientist setting up a radar system in Colorado to test its efficacy in detecting birds and bats flying towards spinning wind turbines.

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

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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.

February 8, 2016

Evidence of Absence

This is a recorded presentation describing 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,

...
A woman and a man stand under a solar trough
July 24, 2014

Researchers at Solar site

USGS Manuela Huso and FWS Chris Nicolai at solar trough facility. A solar trough reflects the sun's rays towards a solar collector.

News related to the Energy and Wildlife Program are listed below.

Filter Total Items: 12
Date published: June 12, 2019

Seeking the Seeps

We're setting sail onboard the R/V Falkor for 21 days of deepsea science. Lead scientist Amanda Demopoulos shares what she's excited about as we head out into the Pacific.

Date published: April 11, 2019

WERC Scientists Combine Bird Calls and Artificial Intelligence to Keep Tabs on the Elusive Ashy-Storm Petrel (Audubon magazine)

CALIFORNIA COAST – Artificial intelligence and acoustic sensors help scientists monitor seabirds

Date published: February 12, 2019

Vegetation Recovery on Abandoned Oil and Gas Well Sites is Variable on Colorado Plateau

Recovery of vegetation on plugged and abandoned oil and gas well sites on the Colorado Plateau is influenced by time, moisture, nonnative plants and the type of plant community that was originally in place before well sites were constructed, according to a recently published study by the U.S. Geological Survey.

Date published: May 25, 2018

USGS Fish Passage Research Helps Fish Get to Spawning Grounds

The Blackstone River in Rhode Island is where one of the Nation’s first fish passages was built back in 1714 to help fish navigate past manmade obstructions so they could complete their instinctual migration cycles.

Date published: May 16, 2018

Mapping the Nation's Wind Turbines

There are more than 57,000 wind turbines across the United States, and a new tool allows you to get up close and personal with each one!

Date published: October 23, 2017

Trick or Treat? The Frightening Threats to Bats

Written by Marisa Lubeck and Ethan Alpern

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.  

Date published: October 14, 2015

Birds in the Bakken: Oil Development Can Affect Critical Habitat

Many grassland bird species in the Bakken shale region, including some seriously declining populations, are displaced from their habitats as a result of oil and gas development, according to new U.S. Geological Survey research.