Wind energy development is a fast growing renewable energy source. Despite the many benefits of wind power, there are some concerns regarding the environmental impact of wind turbines, such as habitat loss, habitat disturbance, soil disturbance and possible erosion, vegetation loss, promotion of invasive species, noise pollution, and collision-related avian mortality. Bird and bat collisions with turbines and other infrastructure are possible direct hazards. Habitat loss, habitat fragmentation, avoidance of structures and other behavioral changes, and increased predation because of increased perching and nesting structures for raptors are some of the potential indirect hazards. Wind farms likely have varying risks and different magnitudes of hazards depending on placement of the facility, topography, weather, wildlife habitat needs, and wildlife migration patterns. Improvements in wind farm placement and new repellant technologies may help reduce mortality at wind facilities. These wildlife impact issues along with the great potential for wind energy development in the Great Plains has increased the need for pre-construction assessments and mitigation to lessen the potential impacts of wind energy development. My intent was to gain a better understanding of grassland bird communities in the Texas Panhandle. I examined avian flight heights to identify possible species at greater risk of collisions with wind turbines and I examined avian diversity and density patterns through the year. Understanding differences in avian diversity between cover types will help wildlife managers and wind energy developers identify areas that may be important to avian conservation. I compared the effectiveness of point-counts and line-transects to help researchers plan avian surveys for future pre-construction assessments.
Pre-Wind Energy Development Assessment of the Avian Community in the Central Texas Panhandle
Title: Pre-Wind Energy Development Assessment of the Avian Community in the Central Texas Panhandle
December 01, 2010
Thesis Type: Master's Thesis
Academic Department: Wildlife Studies
Wulf, S. (2010). Pre-Wind Energy Development Assessment of the Avian Community in the Central Texas Panhandle. Master's Thesis, Texas Tech University.