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Wildlife and infrastructure: Impact of wind turbines on bats in the Black Sea coast region

In Eastern Europe, wind energy production is currently promoted as an important source of renewable energy, yet in most cases without appropriate consideration of the negative impacts wind turbines (WTs) may have on protected species such as bats. Here, we present first data on fatality rates, fatality factors and the likely origin of bats killed by WT in the Dobrogea region (Romania), located in a major migratory corridor for wildlife in Eastern Europe. Over a 4-year period, we found a total of 166 bat carcasses from 10 species, mostly representing migratory species such as Pipistrellus nathusii and Nyctalus noctula. Most fatalities at WTs occurred in July and August. We documented 15 cases of barotrauma and 34 cases of blunt-force trauma in carcasses found below WTs. After adjusting for carcass removals and variations in searcher efficiency, we estimated for the 4-year study period a total of 2394 bat casualties at the studied WT facility consisting of 20 units, resulting in a mean fatality rate of 30 bats/WT/year, or 14.2 bats/MW/year. By implementing a curtailment measure at wind speeds below 6.5 m/s, we reduced fatality rates by 78%. Isoscape origin models based on hydrogen stable isotope ratios in fur keratin revealed that the majority of N. noctula that were killed by WTs or captured nearby in mist nets originated from distant areas in the North (Ukraine, Belarus, Russia). The estimated high fatality rates of bats at WT in this area have far-reaching consequences, particularly for populations of migratory bats, if no appropriate mitigation schemes are practised.

Dragoş Ştefan Măntoiu, Kseniia Kravchenko, Linn Sophia Lehnert, Anton Vlaschenko, Oana Teodora Moldovan, Ionuţ Cornel Mirea, Răzvan Cătălin Stanciu, Răzvan Zaharia, Răzvan Popescu-Mirceni, Marius Costin Nistorescu, and Christian Claus Voigt
Romanian Academy, “Emil Racoviţă” Institute of Speleology, Cluj-Napoca, Romania
EPC Consultanţă de mediu Environmental Consulting, Bucharest, Romania
Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW), Berlin, Germany
Bat Rehabilitation Centre Feldman Ecopark, Lesnoye, Ukraine
Romanian Institute of Science and Technology, Cluj-Napoca, Romania
Oceanographic Research and Marine Environment Protection Society Oceanic-Club, Constanța, Romania

European Journal of Wildlife Research, volume 66, article number 44 (2020)
Published: 26 May 2020

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