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Living in habitats affected by wind turbines may result in an increase in corticosterone levels in ground dwelling animals  

Author:  | Health, Wildlife

Environmental changes and disturbance factors caused by wind turbines may act as potential stressors for natural populations of both flying and ground dwelling animal species. The physiological stress response results in release of glucocorticoid hormones. We studied two rodent species of the agricultural landscape (the common vole Microtus arvalis and the striped field mouse Apodemus agrarius) and tested the hypothesis that living in habitats affected by wind turbines results in an increase in corticosterone levels. Rodents were trapped at sites near wind turbines and in control areas. Faeces samples were collected from traps where the targeted animals were caught. For the analysis of corticosterone concentrations in the faeces, we used ELISA tests with antibodies for this hormone. The common vole showed a distinct physiological response − the individuals living near the wind turbines had a higher level of corticosterone. The striped field mouse did not show a similar response. We pointed out the main factors increasing corticosterone levels in voles and features of the studied species that may determine the differences in their reaction including: the width of the ecological niche, spatial mobility, and predation pressure. This is the first study suggesting impact of wind farms on physiological stress reactions in wild rodent populations. Such knowledge may be helpful in making environmental decisions when planning the development of wind energy and may contribute to optimization of conservation actions for wildlife.

Rafał Łopucki, Center for Interdisciplinary Research, John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin, Poland
Daniel Klich, Department of Genetics and Animal Breeding, Warsaw University of Life Sciences–SGGW, Poland
Agnieszka Ścibiorc, Dorota Gołębiowska, Laboratory of Oxidative Stress, Center for Interdisciplinary Research, John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin
Kajetan Perzanowski, Institute of Landscape Architecture,John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin

Ecological Indicators 84 (2018) 165–171. doi: 10.1016/j.ecolind.2017.08.052

Living in habitats affected by wind turbines may result in an increase in corticosterone levels in ground dwelling animals

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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