University of Nebraska studying the effects of wind-power development on prairie chickens in Nebraska
During the next five months, you may notice several vehicles from the University of Nebraska in our community. Eight individuals (1 post doctoral research associate, 2 graduate students and 5 field assistants – hired help for students) representing the University of Nebraska School of Natural Resources will be doing studies at the Wind Towers south of Ainsworth.
The project was developed by the current team in response to a call for proposals in October 2011 from the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.
The project aim is to investigate the effects, if any, of wind farms on prairie chickens with a view to aid investors, planners and policy makers to identify ideal locations for future wind farms.
What will these individuals be doing while here?
The research focus will be on:
1. Influence of wind farms on movements of prairie-chickens, relative to wind turbines during mating, nesting, and brooding. This will be studied using radio telemetry;
2. Influence of wind farms on prairie-chicken stress. Fecal samples and feathers from prairie-chickens will be used to compare stress hormone levels along a gradient that runs away from the wind farm;
3. Influence of wind farms on raptors. Raptor surveys will be used to address whether wind farms displace raptors and whether there are subsequence effects on prairie chickens
4. Turbine noise. Sound analyses of turbines and prairie grouse, as well as behaviors at the booming grounds, will assess potential effects of turbine sound on prairie chickens.
Data will be collected along a 25 km gradient that runs away from the wind farm in Ainsworth. The research will be conducted on private lands, with assistance from Bill Vodehnal of the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission to gain permission for land access through previous relationships.
So, from March – July, you will see extra activity around the wind turbines and in the Ainsworth community as these representatives from the School of Natural Resources, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, perform some fact finding data.
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