Rapid worldwide growth of wind energy is an important factor that is changing agricultural areas and affecting wildlife. The impact of wind farms on ground-dwelling animals is poorly recognized. Such lack of knowledge is disadvantageous, particularly in the case of rare and protected species, because it may lead to incomplete or inappropriate conservation strategies. We studied whether wind turbines through their vibration and visual or acoustic impact contribute to fragmentation of the environment and change the spatial distribution of the European hamster Cricetus cricetus (a small mammal, threatened with extinction) within wind farm areas. The study was conducted at three wind farms in Poland. The hamsters' burrows were counted along 218 transects near turbines (up to 150 m), at intermediate distances (200–500 m), and outside of wind farms (1–5 km). We did not find any evidence that wind farms in their operational phase cause habitat fragmentation for the European hamster and change its spatial distribution. The studied species occurred even near wind turbines, within the zone of the most intense noise and ground vibrations. Possible explanations for the spatial patterns of hamsters' distribution around wind turbines and their implications for the conservation strategy of this endangered species in contemporary agricultural habitats are discussed.
Effects of Wind Turbines on Spatial Distribution of the European Hamster
Title: Effects of Wind Turbines on Spatial Distribution of the European Hamster
January 01, 2017
Journal: Ecological Indicators
Łopucki, R.; Perzanowski, K. (2018). Effects of Wind Turbines on Spatial Distribution of the European Hamster. Ecological Indicators, 84, 433-436.