Non-territorial GPS-tagged golden eagles Aquila chrysaetos at two Scottish wind farms: Avoidance influenced by preferred habitat distribution, wind speed and blade motion status
AuthorsFielding, Alan H.
Whitfield, D. Philip; orcid: 0000-0003-4255-7782; email: firstname.lastname@example.org
MetadataShow full item record
AbstractWind farms can have two broad potential adverse effects on birds via antagonistic processes: displacement from the vicinity of turbines (avoidance), or death through collision with rotating turbine blades. These effects may not be mutually exclusive. Using detailed data from 99 turbines at two wind farms in central Scotland and thousands of GPS-telemetry data from dispersing golden eagles, we tested three hypotheses. Before-and-after-operation analyses supported the hypothesis of avoidance: displacement was reduced at turbine locations in more preferred habitat and with more preferred habitat nearby. After-operation analyses (i.e. from the period when turbines were operational) showed that at higher wind speeds and in highly preferred habitat eagles were less wary of turbines with motionless blades: rejecting our second hypothesis. Our third hypothesis was supported, since at higher wind speeds eagles flew closer to operational turbines; especially–once more–turbines in more preferred habitat. After operation, eagles effectively abandoned inner turbine locations, and flight line records close to rotor blades were rare. While our study indicated that whole-wind farm functional habitat loss through avoidance was the substantial adverse impact, we make recommendations on future wind farm design to minimise collision risk further. These largely entail developers avoiding outer turbine locations which are in and surrounded by swathes of preferred habitat. Our study illustrates the insights which detailed case studies of large raptors at wind farms can bring and emphasises that the balance between avoidance and collision can have several influences.
CitationPLOS ONE, volume 16, issue 8, page e0254159
PublisherPublic Library of Science
DescriptionFrom PLOS via Jisc Publications Router
History: received 2020-09-22, collection 2021, accepted 2021-06-21, epub 2021-08-05
Publication status: Published
Funder: natural research
Funder: the royal society for the protection of birds
Funder: roy dennis wildlife foundation
Funder: ruth tingay
Funder: sse renewables
Funder: scottishpower renewables; funder-id: http://dx.doi.org/10.13039/100012017