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Golden Eagle fatalities and the continental-scale consequences of local wind-energy generation  

Author:  | California, Wildlife

Abstract. Renewable energy production is expanding rapidly despite mostly unknown environmental effects on wildlife and habitats. We used genetic and stable isotope data collected from Golden Eagles (Aquila chrysaetos) killed at the Altamont Pass Wind Resource Area (APWRA) in California in demographic models to test hypotheses about the geographic extent and demographic consequences of fatalities caused by renewable energy facilities. Geospatial analyses of δ2H values obtained from feathers showed that ≥25% of these APWRA-killed eagles were recent immigrants to the population, most from long distances away (>100 km). Data from nuclear genes indicated this subset of immigrant eagles was genetically similar to birds identified as locals from the δ2H data. Demographic models implied that in the face of this mortality, the apparent stability of the local Golden Eagle population was maintained by continental-scale immigration. These analyses demonstrate that ecosystem management decisions concerning the effects of local-scale renewable energy can have continental-scale consequences.

Todd E. Katzner, U.S. Geological Survey, Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center, Boise, Idaho

David M. Nelson and Matthew C. Fitzpatrick, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, Appalachian Laboratory, Frostburg, Maryland

Melissa A. Braham, Adam E. Duerr, and Tricia A. Miller, Division of Forestry and Natural Resources, West Virginia University, Morgantown, West Virginia

Jacqueline M. Doyle, Nadia B. Fernandez, and J. Andrew DeWoody, Department of Forestry & Natural Resources, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana

Peter H. Bloom, Western Foundation of Vertebrate Zoology, Camarillo, California

Renee C. E. Culver and Loan Braswell, NextEra Energy Resources, Juno Beach, Florida

Conservation Biology
First published: 27 September 2016
DOI: 10.1111/cobi.12836

Fatalidades del Águila Dorada y Consecuencias a Escala Continental de la Generación Local de Energía Eólica

Resumen

La producción de energía renovable se está expandiendo rápidamente a pesar de los muchos efectos desconocidos sobre la vida silvestre y sus hábitats. Utilizamos los datos genéticos y de isotopos estables recolectados de águilas doradas (Aquila chrysaetos) muertas en el Área de Recursos de Aire del Paso de Altamont (ARAPA) en California en modelos demográficos para probar las hipótesis sobre la extensión geográfica y las consecuencias demográficas de las fatalidades causadas por las instalaciones de energía renovable. Los análisis geoespaciales de los valores de δ2H obtenidos de las plumas mostraron que ≥25 % de estas águilas muertas en ARAPA eran migrantes recientes hacia la población, la mayoría desde distancias lejanas (>100 km). Los datos de los genes nucleares indicaron que este subconjunto de águilas inmigrantes era genéticamente similar a las aves identificadas como locales a partir de los datos de δ2H. Los modelos demográficos insinuaron que, de frente a esta mortalidad, la estabilidad aparente de la población local de águilas doradas fue mantenida por una inmigración a escala continental. Estos análisis demuestran que las decisiones de manejo del ecosistema con respecto a los efectos de la energía renovable a escala local pueden tener consecuencias a escala continental.

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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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