NREL - National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Wind Turbines Impact Bat Activity, Leading to High Losses of Habitat Use in a Biodiversity Hotspot

Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2018
Contributors
JournalEcological Engineering
Volume112
Pagination51 - 54
Date Published03/2018
ISSN0925-8574
Abstract

Previous studies have mainly focused on bat mortality through collision by wind turbines, and very few studies have assessed the indirect impacts on bat activity and on foraging habitat availability. Also, there is a global lack of knowledge on the vulnerability of tropical bat fauna due to wind energy production, even though it is well known that windpower can affect bat communities and biodiversity hotspots are widespread in the tropics. We present one of the first studies to quantify the indirect impact of wind farms on insectivorous bats in tropical hotspots of biodiversity. Bat activity was compared between wind farm sites and control sites, via ultrasound recordings at stationary points. The activity of bent winged bats (Miniopterus sp.) and wattled bats (Chalinolobus sp.) were both significantly lower at wind turbine sites. The result of the study demonstrates a large effect on bat habitat use at wind turbines sites compared to control sites. Bat activity was 20 times higher at control sites compared to wind turbine sites, which suggests that habitat loss is an important impact to consider in wind farm planning We strongly recommend that the loss of the foraging habitat loss is considered in mitigation hierarchy (avoiding, reducing, offsetting) when compensating for negative impacts of wind farms.

Full TextFull text available from publisher
URLhttps://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecoleng.2017.12.024
TagsNew Caledonia; South Pacific; Land-Based Wind; Bats (general); 2018; Journal Article