Wind farms are positioned in open landscapes and may cause loss of wildlife habitat due to disturbance, fragmentation, and infrastructure development. Especially flocking geese, swans, ducks and waders are regarded as vulnerable to wind farm development. We compared past and current displacement effects of two onshore wind farms and a line of land-based turbines on spring-staging pink-footed geese (Anser brachyrhynchus) to see if there was evidence of habituation. In one wind farm area, geese previously (1998) (Larsen and Madsen 2000) kept a distance of c. 200 m (the distance at which 50% of peak densities is reached) and they did not go between the turbines; today (2008) they keep a distance of c. 100 m, but do still not enter the wind farm area. In another wind farm, where foraging geese previously (2000) kept a distance of more than 100 m and did not enter the wind farm, they now (2008) forage between the wind turbines and keep a distance of c. 40 m to turbines. In 1998, geese kept a distance of 125 m to a line of turbines, compared to 50 m now. We conclude that geese have behaviorally adapted to changing landscapes created by wind farms. The difference in avoidance between the sites may be due to the sizes of the turbines which in this study were small in both rotor-swept area and in height compared to more recent “industry standard” of 2.5 and 3.0 MW turbines. The study points to the need for longer term studies to properly assess the impact of wind farms on wildlife, including consequent increased risks from inclement weather events of feeding, rafting, and migrating waterfowl.
Animal Behavioral Adaptation to Changing Landscapes: Spring-Staging Geese Habituate to Wind Farms
Title: Animal Behavioral Adaptation to Changing Landscapes: Spring-Staging Geese Habituate to Wind Farms
November 01, 2008
Journal: Landscape Ecology
Madsen, J.; Boertmann, D. (2008). Animal Behavioral Adaptation to Changing Landscapes: Spring-Staging Geese Habituate to Wind Farms. Landscape Ecology, 23, 1007-1011.