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Vulnerability of avian populations to renewable energy production

March 30, 2022

Renewable energy production can kill individual birds, but little is known about how it affects avian populations. We assessed the vulnerability of populations for 23 priority bird species killed at wind and solar facilities in California, USA. Bayesian hierarchical models suggested that 48% of these species were vulnerable to population-level effects from added fatalities caused by renewables and other sources. Effects of renewables extended far beyond the location of energy production to impact bird populations in distant regions across continental migration networks. Populations of species associated with grasslands where turbines were located were most vulnerable to wind. Populations of nocturnal migrant species were most vulnerable to solar, despite not typically being associated with deserts where the solar facilities we evaluated were located. Our findings indicate that addressing declines of North American bird populations requires consideration of the effects of renewables and other anthropogenic threats on both nearby and distant populations of vulnerable species.

Publication Year 2022
Title Vulnerability of avian populations to renewable energy production
DOI 10.1098/rsos.211558
Authors Tara Conkling, Hannah B. Vander Zanden, Taber D Allison, James E. Diffendorfer, Thomas V Dietsch, A. Duerr, Amy L Fesnock, Rebecca R. Hernandez, S. R. Loss, David M. Nelson, Peter M. Sanzenbacher, Julie L. Yee, Todd E. Katzner
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Royal Society Open Science
Index ID 70230691
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center; Western Ecological Research Center