Short-Term Impacts of Wind Energy Development on Greater Sage-Grouse Fitness

Journal Article

Title: Short-Term Impacts of Wind Energy Development on Greater Sage-Grouse Fitness
Publication Date:
April 01, 2014
Journal: The Journal of Wildlife Management
Volume: 78
Issue: 3
Pages: 522-530
Publisher: Wiley

Document Access

Website: External Link


LeBeau, C.; Beck, J.; Johnson, G.; Holloran, M. (2014). Short-Term Impacts of Wind Energy Development on Greater Sage-Grouse Fitness. The Journal of Wildlife Management, 78(3), 522-530.

Greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) are experiencing population declines across much of their current range. Population declines are directly related to changes in greater sage-grouse fitness parameters including nest and brood success, and female survival. Reduced fitness in greater sage-grouse populations has been attributed to a decrease in habitat suitability caused by anthropogenic disturbance factors including energy extraction activities. The increased demand for renewable energy has raised concerns about the impacts of infrastructure associated with wind energy development on greater sage-grouse populations. We hypothesized that greater sage-grouse nest, brood, and adult survival would decrease with increasing proximity to wind energy infrastructure, particularly wind turbines. We monitored 95 nests, 31 broods, and identified 45 mortalities from 116 female greater sage-grouse from 2009 to 2010 at a wind energy facility in south-central Wyoming, USA. We used Cox proportional hazards regression to model nest survival and used the Andersen–Gill survival model to estimate female and brood survival relative to vegetation cover, topography, and distance to wind turbines and other anthropogenic features on the landscape. Results from our survival analysis indicated that the risk of a nest or brood failing decreased by 7.1% and 38.1%, respectively, with every 1.0 km increase in distance from nearest turbine. We detected no variation in female survival relative to wind energy infrastructure. Decreased nest and brood survival was likely the result of increased predation, which may have been a product of anthropogenic development and habitat fragmentation. Future wind energy developments should consider the increased risk of nest and brood failure within habitats of close proximity to turbines. Identifying nesting and brood-rearing habitats within close proximity to proposed wind energy developments is critical when estimating potential impacts to overall population fitness. 

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