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Flight altitudes of raptors in southern Africa highlight vulnerability of threatened species to wind turbines

October 8, 2021

Energy infrastructure, particularly for wind power, is rapidly expanding in Africa, creating the potential for conflict with at-risk wildlife populations. Raptor populations are especially susceptible to negative impacts of fatalities from wind energy because individuals tend to be long-lived and reproduce slowly. A major determinant of risk of collision between flying birds and wind turbines is the altitude above ground at which a bird flies. We examine 18,710 observations of flying raptors recorded in southern Africa and we evaluate, for 49 species, the frequency with which they were observed to fly at the general height of a wind turbine rotor-swept zone (50–150 m). Threatened species, especially vultures, were more likely to be observed at turbine height than were other species, suggesting that these raptors are most likely to be affected by wind power development across southern Africa. Our results highlight that threatened raptor species, particularly vultures, might be especially impacted by expanded wind energy infrastructure across southern Africa.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2021
Title Flight altitudes of raptors in southern Africa highlight vulnerability of threatened species to wind turbines
DOI 10.3389/fevo.2021.667384
Authors Christopher J W McClure, Leah Dunn, Jennifer D McCabe, Brian W. Rolek, Andre Botha, Munir Virani, Ralph Buij, Todd E. Katzner
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution
Series Number
Index ID 70229678
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center

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