Bird and bat species’ global vulnerability to collision mortality at wind farms revealed through a trait-based assessment
Author: | Wildlife
Mitigation of anthropogenic climate change involves deployments of renewable energy worldwide, including wind farms, which can pose a significant collision risk to volant animals. Most studies into the collision risk between species and wind turbines, however, have taken place in industrialized countries. Potential effects for many locations and species therefore remain unclear. To redress this gap, we conducted a systematic literature review of recorded collisions between birds and bats and wind turbines within developed countries. We related collision rate to species-level traits and turbine characteristics to quantify the potential vulnerability of 9538 bird and 888 bat species globally. Avian collision rate was affected by migratory strategy, dispersal distance and habitat associations, and bat collision rates were influenced by dispersal distance. For birds and bats, larger turbine capacity (megawatts) increased collision rates; however, deploying a smaller number of large turbines with greater energy output reduced total collision risk per unit energy output, although bat mortality increased again with the largest turbines. Areas with high concentrations of vulnerable species were also identified, including migration corridors. Our results can therefore guide wind farm design and location to reduce the risk of large-scale animal mortality. This is the first quantitative global assessment of the relative collision vulnerability of species groups with wind turbines, providing valuable guidance for minimizing potentially serious negative impacts on biodiversity.
Chris B. Thaxter, Graeme M. Buchanan, Jamie Carr, Stuart H. M. Butchart, Tim Newbold, Rhys E. Green, Joseph A. Tobias, Wendy B. Foden, Sue O’Brien, and James W. Pearce-Higgins
Proceedings of the Royal Society B, volume 284, issue 1862. Published online 13 September 2017.
- File S1: Collision dataset and list of references reviewed
- File S2: Supplementary R code and supporting files and datasets providing an example of the trait-based analysis and model predictions for birds, based on one phylogenetic reconstruction method (6 files)
- File S3: Model predictions of collisions per turbine per year for bird species worldwide
- File S4: Model predictions of collisions per turbine per year for bat species worldwide
- Appendix A1: Supplementary figure for the location of onshore wind farms included in this study
- Appendix A2: Supplementary methods detailing classification of study quality for studies included in the meta analysis
- Appendix A3: Rationale for species traits selection for species included in the meta analysis
- Appendix A4: Additional information on data manipulation and statistical analyses
- Appendix A5: Beta coefficients from MCMCglmm models for birds and bats
- Appendix A6: Summary of model predictions of collisions per turbine per year for families of birds and bats
- Appendix A7: Comparison of model predictions to the IUCN Red List assessment of species vulnerability to the threat of renewable energy.
This article is the work of the author(s) indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.
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