Energy produced by wind farms has diverse positive environmental effects, but can also be related to negative impacts, including wildlife mortality through collisions with wind turbines. Bird and bat mortality caused by collisions with wind turbines can be estimated indirectly by counting carcasses within wind farms. However, carcass removal by scavengers often biases such measurements. In this study, we identified the main scavengers removing bird and bat carcasses in a tropical wind farm. A known fate analysis was done to assess the effect of carcass type (i.e., small bird, large bird, bat), vegetation type (i.e., secondary vegetation, croplands) and season (dry and rainy seasons of 2009) on carcass persistence rates. We identified three main scavenger groups, with mammals being the most abundant group. Our results show high rates of carcass removal relative to previous studies, especially for bats; there were fewer remaining carcasses after 20 days in our tropical site than in non-tropical environments reported elsewhere. We found a higher carcass persistence rate during the rainy season than in the dry season, possibly due to a greater abundance of food resources for scavenger organisms in the rainy season. Although we found some evidence for higher persistence rates for large bird carcasses than for small bird and bat carcasses during the rainy season, overall carcass type was not a strong predictor of persistence rates. Similarly, we did not find a strong effect of vegetation type on carcass persistence rates. Results suggest that in order to estimate accurate bird and bat mortality in tropical wind farm areas, seasonality should be incorporated to correction factors of carcass removal rates.
Scavenger removal: Bird and bat carcass persistence in a tropical wind farm
Title: Scavenger removal: Bird and bat carcass persistence in a tropical wind farm
August 01, 2012
Journal: Acta Oecologica
Villegas-Patraca, R.; Macias-Sanchez, S.; Macgregor-Fors, I.; Munoz-Robles, C. (2012). Scavenger removal: Bird and bat carcass persistence in a tropical wind farm. Acta Oecologica, 43, 121-125.