In an excellent habitat of black grouse (Tetrao tetrix) in Styria (Austria) we compared effects of a windpark and a skiing area on the local population. The areas around the timber line provide most of Austrian inneralpine habitats of black grouse. Here a windpark was built immediately beside a skiing area. Therefore other causes of different habitat use patterns like climate, other types of landscape or other degree of connection to other local populations could be excluded here. We had no evidence of systematic evaluated data from habitat use without any disturbance. Impacts of the windpark on leking activities are already known. Now we compared the relation of habitat use in the two areas using a simple HSI-model for habitat quality. Besides we proofed presence of the grouse in grid patterns of 100 x 100 m. We assumed the same high presence in both areas if the wind power plants would have no influence on habitat use. But we found in the skiing area 43% of the grid areas used, but only 12 % in the windpark within a distance of 500 m from the wind power plants. Only the border areas to undisturbed good habitats were used partly. In the skiing area with only winter-tourism we found no minimal distance to skilifts or ski pistes in summer and during mating time. Here some leks were located immediately on the pistes. Broad pistes were nearly never used during summer, these areas are lost as black grouse habitats. Our conclusions are that in established skiing areas it makes sense to set management measures also on a small-scale-basis (like wooden fences, measurements to avoid collisions with cables, to hold small areas with good habitats as much as possible etc.). In windparks which are sited at a small timber line it is supposed that not only the leks but also the local populations of black grouse will disappear.
Birkhühner Tetrao tetrix (Linnaeus 1758): Ein Leben zwischen Windrädern und Schiliften (Black Grouse Tetrao tetrix (Linnaeus 1758): How to live between Skiing Areas and Windparks) is only available in German.