Mission Areas

Energy & Wildlife

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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.

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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.

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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

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News

Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System facility in southeastern California.
July 27, 2016

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.

A seal pup kisses its mom in Antarctica. Photo by William Link, USGS, under NMFS Permit 1032-1917
May 6, 2016

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.  

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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Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative (WLCI) Logo
October 27, 2016

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 Landscape Conservation Initiative (WLCI) Logo
October 27, 2016

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 Landscape Conservation Initiative (WLCI) Logo
October 27, 2016

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 Landscape Conservation Initiative (WLCI) Logo
October 27, 2016

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...

Summer sunrise on the Oregon Buttes in Wyoming.
September 1, 2016

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...

Grand Canyon, Arizona as seen from Desert View Point on the South Rim.
July 1, 2016

The use of uranium is an alternative energy source to petroleum products and some of the United States’ highest quality ore is located on the Colorado Plateau. However, some regions where suitable mining efforts are conducted include areas that are near important environmental resources such as National Parks that provide viewscapes and habitat for wildlife....

Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System
May 2, 2016

USGS science is helping to understand the potential impact to wildlife and habitats for a number of wildlife species. Scientists are also developing risk assessment tools to allow energy developers to streamline permitting of solar energy developments.

Monarch butterfly on switchgrass
May 2, 2016

USGS researchers are actively evaluating the potential for and consequences of biofuel production. These scientists are conducting research to find answers to questions such as, what happens when biofuels are incorporated in different soil types and landscapes? And what effects will biofuel production have on ecosystems, dust production, or water quality and quantity?

Golden Eagle on Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge
May 2, 2016

USGS supports the U.S. goal to increase energy production from clean, renewable sources by conducting research into minimizing or mitigating potential negative effects of an expanding renewable energy infrastructure. USGS scientists collect data and develop tools and techniques to minimize potential negative effects of new energy development.

Wind turbines
May 2, 2016

Wind power is one of the fastest-growing sources of new electricity supply and the largest source of new renewable power generation added in the United States since 2000. While wind energy supplies clean, renewable power, wind facilities can affect sensitive wildlife species such as bats and eagles through direct collisions, and indirectly through loss of habitat.

Sandhill Cranes
May 2, 2016

Regulatory and management issues associated with renewable energy development are often focused on impacts to listed, legally protected, or otherwise highly valued species and their habitats, including bats, eagles and migratory birds.

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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Albany wind farm
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.

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July 6, 2017

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 classical lion tracking to check on these animals' health, follow their movements, and fit them with GPS collars. Results from this work provide impressive insight into how these animals survive.

Some of the video and music used in this program are covered by copyright.  Contact the producer for details (smwess@usgs.gov).  Copyright owners of these materials include Ryan Christensen (Bristlecone Media), Pond 5, Shutterstock, Videoblocks, Brian Jansen and National Security Technologies.

August 25, 2016

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 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
2016 (approx.)

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

December 31, 2009

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]

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Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System facility in southeastern California.
July 27, 2016

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.