Carcass ecology: forensic techniques shed light on the possible causes of bat susceptibility to turbines.
"Bats and wind energy: Ecology, behavior, and methodology"
Wednesday, Oct 17, 2012, 1:30 PM - 5:20 PM
Wednesday, Oct 17, 2012, 4:00 PM - 4:20 PM
, Ernest Valdez
, Craig Stricker
, Michael Wunder
, Erin Baerwald
, Robert Barclay
, Joel Jameson
, Craig Willis
, Apple Snider
, Elizabeth Crichton
USGS Fort Collins Science Center, Fort Collins, CO,
USGS Arid Lands Field Station-Fort Collins Science Center, Albuquerque, NM,
USGS Stable Isotope and Gas Chemistry Laboratory, Denver, CO,
University of Colorado Denver, Denver, CO,
University of Calgary, Calgary, AB, Canada;
University of Winnipeg, Winnipeg, MB, Canada;
US Forest Service, Steamboat Springs, CO,
University of Queensland, Gatton, Australia. Contact: email@example.com
Bats are often found dead beneath industrial wind turbines during late summer and autumn. Although bat fatalities at turbines occur on several continents, the exact reasons for such susceptibility remain a mystery. In this talk, we describe three projects in which forensic techniques were used to better understand the possible causes and population impacts of turbine fatality. The majority of bat fatalities at turbines in the temperate zones of North America involve
. It has been hypothesized that mating, feeding, and/or migration behaviors of these species play a role in their susceptibility. We analyzed reproductive tracts of specimens found at turbines to assess the plausibility of the mating hypothesis. Histological analysis revealed evidence of mating readiness in all three species. We found that high proportions of juvenile males of each species can be sexually mature in their first autumn, a unique trend for North American bats. We analyzed gastrointestinal tracts from
to assess the feeding hypothesis. Similar to a prior study, most of the carcasses we examined had full stomachs and intestines, indicating they fed mostly on moths in the hour prior to death. We did not find insect parts in the mouths or throats of carcasses that would be expected if bats regularly fed close to turbine blades. We analyzed stable hydrogen isotope signatures in fur of
found at turbines to infer the geographic origins of individuals and better understand population impacts. Isotopes indicated that bats often died during migration and that individuals originated from many different areas and arrived at the wind facilities in no structured phenology. Combined with earlier isotope results, new patterns in the continental migration of
are emerging. Forensic approaches are currently underutilized despite the potential wealth of information they can provide.
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