Wind Farm Potential is Higher in Prime Habitat for Uncommon Soil Crust Lichens

Journal Article

Title: Wind Farm Potential is Higher in Prime Habitat for Uncommon Soil Crust Lichens
Publication Date:
May 15, 2013
Journal: Ecological Processes
Volume: 2
Issue: 10
Pages: 1-8
Publisher: Springer
Stressor:
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Document Access

Website: External Link
Attachment: Access File
(2 MB)

Citation

Root, H.; McCune, M.; McCune, B. (2013). Wind Farm Potential is Higher in Prime Habitat for Uncommon Soil Crust Lichens. Ecological Processes, 2(10), 1-8.
Abstract: 

Introduction

Biotic soil crust communities contribute valuable ecosystem services and biodiversity in steppe ecosystems. The uncommon crust lichens Acarospora schleicheri, Fuscopannaria cyanolepra, Rhizocarpon diploschistidina, and Texosporium sancti-jacobi are associated with fine-textured soils along rivers of the Columbia Basin. A. schleicheri and R. diploschistidina indicate late-successional habitat and may serve as indicators for other rare or cryptic species associated with similar habitats. Much of the most favorable habitat for these species has been lost to urban and agricultural development. We sought to overlay favorable habitats with wind farm development potential to assess whether these species are likely to be affected by renewable energy development.

 

Methods

We overlaid habitat models for four lichen species on land use and wind farm potential maps. Using a sample of 5,000 points, we determined whether there were differences in probability of occurrence among wind farm potential classes within developed and natural lands using Multi-Response Permutation Procedures. Sites with modeled probability of occurrence greater than 60% were considered “favorable” habitats; for these, a χ2 test allowed us to determine whether favorable habitats were associated with wind farm potential categories.

 

Results

Sites that are developed for agriculture or have higher wind farm potential coincide with more favorable habitats for uncommon soil crust lichens. Of the favorable habitats for the four focal lichens, 28–42% are already affected by development or agriculture; 5–14% of favorable habitats remain in natural vegetation and are considered sites with fair or good potential for wind farms.

 

Conclusions

Development of wind energy has the potential to negatively impact uncommon soil crust lichen species because favorable sites coincide with especially good habitat for these species. However, as these renewable energy resources are developed, we have the opportunity to ensure that valuable soil crust functions and diversity are maintained by surveying before construction and planning new facilities such that disturbance to existing habitat is minimized.

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