Presentation Abstract

Title: Understanding habitat use is necessary for assessing risk from wind energy development.
Session Title: Mitigating Impacts of Wind Energy Development on Golden Eagles
Session Number: 72
Session Time: Wednesday, Oct 17, 2012, 8:30 AM -12:20 PM
Presentation Time: Wednesday, Oct 17, 2012, 9:30 AM - 9:50 AM
Author(s): Douglas H. Johnson1, Anna C. Peterson2, Kevin Heist2, 1USGS Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center, Saint Paul, MN, 2University of Minnesota, Saint Paul, MN, Contact:
Abstract Body: The habitats selected by an animal influence not only its
fitness but also its exposure to risks posed by various events, including
collisions with wind turbines. Therefore knowledge of an animal’s habitat
selection and use is very valuable for siting wind farms to avoid or minimize the
number of collisions. Human’s understanding of habitat selection of animals is
extremely incomplete and highly biased, however, with weakest information about
areas infrequently visited by humans, species that are less conspicuous or
well-known, and pathways used during migration, especially of nocturnal
migrants. Guidelines for wind development propose that adverse effects be minimized
(preferably avoided) and losses be compensated.
Minimizing effects requires an understanding of habitat use. Mapping known breeding ranges and wintering
ranges, while useful, is simply inadequate. Much of the risk to golden eagles (Aquila chrysaetos) and other wildlife
lies outside these identified areas; a better understanding of habitat
selection in a broader sense is needed.
Compensating for losses requires estimating the number of losses,
identifying methods to compensate, and estimating the effectiveness of those methods,
so that the expected compensation can be matched to the expected losses. Estimating losses in turn requires
well-designed programs for monitoring fatalities, and evaluating compensation
methods will need a solid understanding of habitat selection, especially
habitats that are limiting.

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