Impact of wind farms on soaring bird populations at a migratory bottleneck

Journal Article

Title: Impact of wind farms on soaring bird populations at a migratory bottleneck
Publication Date:
June 01, 2018
Journal: European Journal of Wildlife Research
Volume: 64
Issue: 33
Pages: 10
Publisher: Springer

Document Access

Website: External Link


Martin, B.; Perez-Bacalu, C.; Onrubia, A.; de Lucas, M.; Ferrer, M. (2018). Impact of wind farms on soaring bird populations at a migratory bottleneck. European Journal of Wildlife Research, 64(33), 10.

Collision with turbines at wind farms is expected to have a greater impact on birds at particular sites where high concentrations of individuals occur, such as migration bottleneck areas. The Strait of Gibraltar (southern Spain) has long been recognized as the most important bottleneck in western Europe for soaring bird migration. Moreover, this area is within one of the most important potential areas for wind energy generation in Spain. Here, we examine monthly migratory soaring bird abundance in relation to long-term avian mortality rates at 21 wind farms located near the Strait of Gibraltar using zero-inflated hurdle negative binomial and gamma models. Best fit models included an effect of season in the collision mortality rates and in the proportion of adult individuals within the total deaths. However, monthly bird abundance was not directly related to the number of fatalities over the year. The accumulated fatalities during autumn migration constitute a small percentage (1%) of the total migrating population size. Moreover, mortality peak during autumn migration is largely attributable to juvenile birds. In contrast, the number of fatalities coinciding with the breeding period constitutes a substantial proportion (6%) of the local population, and it involved substantial losses among adult birds. Our results show that wind farms probably have an individually low impact on the migratory population of soaring birds. On the contrary, annual losses among adult local birds are remarkably high considering the small size of the local populations, and they may have population level effects.

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