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Limited rigor in studies of raptor mortality and mitigation at wind power facilities

October 28, 2022

Wind power is an expanding source of renewable energy. However, there are ecological challenges related to wind energy generation, including collisions of wildlife with turbines. Lack of rigor, and variation in study design, together limit efforts to understand the broad-scale effects of wind power infrastructure on wildlife populations. It is not clear, however, whether these types of limitations apply to groups of birds such as raptors that are particularly vulnerable to negative effects of wind energy. We reviewed 672 peer-reviewed publications, unpublished reports, and citations from 321 wind facilities in 12 countries to evaluate methods used to monitor and mitigate for wind facility impacts on raptors. Most reports that included raptor monitoring (86 %, n = 461) only conducted post-construction monitoring for raptor fatalities, while few (12 %; n = 65) estimated pre-construction raptor use. Only 27 % of facilities (n = 62) provided estimates of fatalities or raptor use across multiple construction phases, and the percentage of facilities with data available from multiple construction periods has not changed over time. A formal experimental study design was incorporated into surveys at only 29 % of facilities. Finally, mitigation practices to reduce impacts on raptors were only reported at 23 % of facilities. Our results suggest that rigorous data collection on wind energy impacts to raptors is rare, and that mitigation of detrimental effects is seldom reported. Expanding the use of rigorous research approaches and increasing data availability would improve understanding of the regional and global effects of wind energy on raptor populations.

Publication Year 2022
Title Limited rigor in studies of raptor mortality and mitigation at wind power facilities
DOI 10.1016/j.biocon.2022.109707
Authors Tara Conkling, Christopher J. W. McClure, Sandra Cuadros, S. R. Loss, Todd E. Katzner
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Biological Conservation
Index ID 70237878
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center