Migratory stopover habitats are often not part of planning for conservation or new development projects. We identified potential stopover habitats within an avian migratory flyway and demonstrated how this information can guide the site-selection process for new development. We used the random forests modeling approach to map the distribution of predicted stopover habitat for the Whooping Crane (Grus americana), an endangered species whose migratory flyway overlaps with an area where wind energy development is expected to become increasingly important. We then used this information to identify areas for potential wind power development in a U.S. state within the flyway (Nebraska) that minimize conflicts between Whooping Crane stopover habitat and the development of clean, renewable energy sources. Up to 54% of our study area was predicted to be unsuitable as Whooping Crane stopover habitat and could be considered relatively low risk for conflicts between Whooping Cranes and wind energy development. We suggest that this type of analysis be incorporated into the habitat conservation planning process in areas where incidental take permits are being considered for Whooping Cranes or other species of concern. Field surveys should always be conducted prior to construction to verify model predictions and understand baseline conditions.
Predicting and Mapping Potential Whooping Crane Stopover Habitat to Guide Site Selection for Wind Energy Projects
Title: Predicting and Mapping Potential Whooping Crane Stopover Habitat to Guide Site Selection for Wind Energy Projects
December 20, 2013
Journal: Conservation Biology
Belaire, J.; Kreakie, B.; Keitt, T.; Minor, E. (2013). Predicting and Mapping Potential Whooping Crane Stopover Habitat to Guide Site Selection for Wind Energy Projects. Conservation Biology, 28(2), 541-550.