Renewable energy is expanding quickly with sometimes dramatic impacts to species and ecosystems. To understand the degree to which sensitive species may be impacted by renewable energy projects, it is informative to know how much space individuals use and how that space may overlap with planned development. We used global positioning system–global system for mobile communications (GPS-GSM) telemetry to measure year-round movements of golden eagles (Aquila chrysaetos) from the Mojave Desert of California, USA. We estimated monthly space use with adaptive local convex hulls to identify the temporal and spatial scales at which eagles may encounter renewable energy projects in the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan area. Mean size of home ranges was lowest and least variable from November through January and greatest in February–March and May–August. These monthly home range patterns coincided with seasonal variation in breeding ecology, habitat associations, and temperature. The expanded home ranges in hot summer months included movements to cooler, prey-dense, mountainous areas characterized by forest, grasslands, and scrublands. Breeding-season home ranges (October–May) included more lowland semi-desert and rock vegetation. Overlap of eagle home ranges and focus areas for renewable energy development was greatest when eagle home ranges were smallest, during the breeding season. Golden eagles in the Mojave Desert used more space and a wider range of habitat types than expected and renewable energy projects could affect a larger section of the regional population than was previously thought.
Home in the heat: Dramatic seasonal variation in home range of desert golden eagles informs management for renewable energy development
Title: Home in the heat: Dramatic seasonal variation in home range of desert golden eagles informs management for renewable energy development
June 01, 2015
Journal: Biological Conservation
Braham, M.; Miller, T.; Duerr, A.; Lanzone, M.; Fesnock, A.; LaPre, L.; Driscoll, D.; Katzner, T. (2015). Home in the heat: Dramatic seasonal variation in home range of desert golden eagles informs management for renewable energy development. Biological Conservation, 186, 225-232.