Worldwide there is a rush toward wind power development and its associated infrastructure. In Fennoscandia, large‐scale wind farms comprising several hundred windmills are currently built in important grazing ranges used for Sámi reindeer husbandry. In this study, reindeer habitat use was assessed using reindeer fecal pellet group counts in relation to two relatively small wind farms, with 8 and 10 turbines, respectively. In 2009, 1,315 15‐m2 plots were established and pellet groups were counted and cleaned from the plots. This was repeated once a year in May, during preconstruction, construction, and operation of the wind farms, covering 6 years (2009–2014) of reindeer habitat use in the area. We modeled the presence/absence of any pellets in a plot at both the local (wind farm site) and regional (reindeer calving to autumn range) scale with a hierarchical logistic regression, where spatial correlation was accounted for via random effects, using vegetation type, and the interaction between distance to wind turbine and time period as predictor variables. Our results revealed an absolute reduction in pellet groups by 66% and 86% around each wind farm, respectively, at local scale and by 61% at regional scale during the operation phase compared to the preconstruction phase. At the regional, scale habitat use declined close to the turbines in the same comparison. However, at the local scale, we observed increased habitat use close to the wind turbines at one of the wind farms during the operation phase. This may be explained by continued use of an important migration route close to the wind farm. The reduced use at the regional scale nevertheless suggests that there may be an overall avoidance of both wind farms during operation, but further studies of reindeer movement and behavior are needed to gain a better understanding of the mechanisms behind this suggested avoidance.
Reindeer habitat use in relation to two small wind farms, during preconstruction, construction, and operation
Title: Reindeer habitat use in relation to two small wind farms, during preconstruction, construction, and operation
June 01, 2017
Journal: Ecology and Evolution
Publisher: John Wiley and Sons Ltd.
Skarin, A.; Alam, M. (2017). Reindeer habitat use in relation to two small wind farms, during preconstruction, construction, and operation. Ecology and Evolution, 7(11), 3870-3882.