New research helps predict bat presence at wind energy facilities

Jan 09, 2012

An interactive tool developed by researchers from the USDA Forest Service's Pacific Southwest Research Station (PSW) will help wind energy facility operators make informed decisions on efficient ways to reduce impacts on migratory bats.

Fatalities of migratory at wind energy facilities have become a frequent occurrence. Bat are poorly understood and the relationship between fatalities at wind energy facilities and are still being studied. Previous research has shown that adjusting the operations of turbines can reduce the number of bats killed at wind energy facilities. However, this strategy has not yet been widely implemented.

Current research found that bat activity depends on time of year and a number of environmental conditions, such as wind direction and speed, air temperature, and moon phase. This suggests that there may be ways to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of . PSW ecologist Ted Weller and statistician Jim Baldwin developed an interactive tool that allows users to visualize how changes in date and weather conditions affect the probability of bat presence. The tool can be found at: http://www.fs.fed.us/psw/topics/wildlife/bat/batprob.shtml

"Increasing the wind speed at which turbines begin to spin and produce energy to the grid has proven to be an effective way to reduce bat fatalities. However, bat activity levels depend on more than just wind speed," says Weller, who led the research. "Our work demonstrates the use of a decision-making tool that could protect bats when fatality risk is highest while maximizing energy production on nights with a low chance of fatalities."

Weller and his research team used devices which detected the bats' echolocation calls, then linked the presence of bats to the measured on-site on a given night. Researchers found that echolocation detectors placed at 22 meters and 52 meters above ground were more effective at characterizing migratory bat activity then those located closer to the ground. Moreover, multiple echolocation detectors were required to accurately characterize bat activity at the facility. They then built models to predict the presence of bats based on date and weather variables.

"Properly deployed echolocation monitoring can be an effective way to predict and, presumably, fatalities at wind energy facilities," says Weller. "These days, pre-construction echolocation monitoring is as common as meteorological monitoring at facilities, so the basic building blocks for these models are available at most proposed sites."

Explore further: Bangladesh development threatens fragile Sundarbans mangroves

More information: Findings from this study appear online in the Journal of Wildlife Management. Read the full article at: treesearch.fs.fed.us/pubs/39603

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Why wind turbines can mean death for bats

Aug 25, 2008

Power-generating wind turbines have long been recognized as a potentially life-threatening hazard for birds. But at most wind facilities, bats actually die in much greater numbers. Now, researchers reporting in Current Bi ...

Wind turbines hazardous to birds, bats

Nov 13, 2007

Wind energy, a fast-growing sector of the U.S. energy industry, is taking a toll on nocturnal wildlife caught in the turbines, officials said.

Some bat numbers up in Britain

Dec 31, 2006

At least four species of bats in Britain have reversed decades of declining populations and have grown in numbers recently.

Recommended for you

Study finds tropical fish moving into temperate waters

1 hour ago

Tropical herbivorous fish are beginning to expand their range into temperate waters – likely as a result of climate change – and a new international study documents the dramatic impact of the intrusion ...

Warming leads to more run-ins with polar bears

4 hours ago

Word spread quickly: a polar bear, then two, were spotted near this remote Inuit village on the shores of Hudson Bay, about 1,800 kilometers (1,120 miles) north of Montreal.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.