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The impact of wind energy facilities on grouse: a systematic review

Abstract

There is increasing concern about the impact of the current boom in wind energy facilities (WEF) and associated infrastructure on wildlife. However, the direct and indirect effects of these facilities on the mortality, occurrence and behaviour of rare and threatened species are poorly understood. We conducted a literature review to examine the potential impacts of WEF on grouse species. We studied whether grouse (1) collide with wind turbines, (2) show behavioural responses in relation to wind turbine developments, and (3) if there are documented effects of WEF on their population sizes or dynamics. Our review is based on 35 sources, including peer-reviewed articles as well as grey literature. Effects of wind turbine facilities on grouse have been studied for eight species. Five grouse species have been found to collide with wind turbines, in particular with the towers. Fifteen studies reported behavioural responses in relation to wind turbine facilities in grouse (seven species), including spatial avoidance, displacement of lekking or nesting sites, or the time invested in breeding vs. non-breeding behaviour. Grouse were affected at up to distances of 500 m by WEF infrastructure, with indications of effects also at bigger distances. In six cases, a local reduction in grouse abundance was reported in areas with wind turbines, which possibly affected population size. Due to the differences in study duration and design, we cannot provide general conclusions on the effects of WEF on grouse populations. We advise applying the precautionary principle by keeping grouse habitats free of wind energy developments, in particular where populations are small or locally threatened. Future studies should preferably apply a long-term before-after-control-impact design for multiple areas to allow for more general conclusions to be drawn on the effects of WEF on rare and threatened wildlife species.

Zusammenfassung

Der Einfluss von Windenergieanlagen auf Raufußhühner: eine systematische Literaturübersicht.

Der fortschreitende Ausbau von Windenergieanlagen und der dazugehörigen Infrastruktur weckt zunehmend Bedenken über deren Auswirkungen auf Wildtiere. Allerdings ist über die direkten und indirekten Auswirkungen von Windenergieanlagen auf die Sterblichkeitsrate, das Vorkommen und das Verhalten seltener und bedrohter Wildtierarten nur wenig bekannt. Wir haben eine systematische Literaturrecherche durchgeführt, um potentielle Auswirkungen von Windenergieanlagen auf Raufußhuhn-Arten zusammenzufassen. Wir analysierten dabei, ob Raufußhühner (1) mit Windenergieanlagen kollidieren, (2) Verhaltensreaktionen in Bezug auf Windenergieanlagen zeigen und (3) ob Auswirkungen auf die Populationsgröße oder -dynamik dokumentiert sind. Insgesamt flossen 35 Quellen (sowohl begutachtete Artikel als auch graue Literatur) in unsere Analyse ein. Die Auswirkungen von Windenergieanlagen auf Raufußhühner wurden bislang für acht Arten untersucht. Bei fünf Raufußhuhn-Arten wurden Kollisionsopfer gefunden. Die Vögel kollidierten vor allem mit den Türmen der Windenergieanlagen und nicht mit den sich bewegenden Rotorblättern. 15 Studien (über 7 Raufußhuhn-Arten) berichteten über Verhaltensreaktionen in Bezug auf Windenergieanlagen, hierzu zählten eine räumliche Meidung und die Verschiebung von Balz- oder Nistplätzen. Effekte auf Raufußhühner zeigten sich bis zu einer Entfernung von 500 m von der Windenergieinfrastruktur, was auf weiträumige Auswirkungen hindeutet. In sechs Fällen wurde in Gebieten mit Windkraftanlagen ein lokaler Rückgang der Raufußhühner-Abundanz beobachtet. Aufgrund der unterschiedlichen Studiendauer und -methoden können wir keine generellen Rückschlüsse auf die Auswirkungen von Windenergieanlagen auf Raufußhuhn-Populationen ziehen. Insbesondere bei kleinen oder lokal bedrohten Populationen empfehlen wir, das Vorsorgeprinzip anzuwenden und daher Raufußhuhn-Lebensräume frei von Windenergieanlagen zu halten. Zukünftige Studien sollten vorzugsweise ein langfristiges Studiendesign anwenden, das Erhebungen vor und nach der Erstellung von Windenergieanlagen in mehreren Studiengebieten vorsieht, um allgemein gültige Schlussfolgerungen über die Auswirkungen von Windenergieanlagen auf Raufußhühner zu ermöglichen.

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Correspondence to Joy Coppes.

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Coppes, J., Braunisch, V., Bollmann, K. et al. The impact of wind energy facilities on grouse: a systematic review. J Ornithol 161, 1–15 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10336-019-01696-1

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Keywords

  • Tetraoninae
  • Collision
  • Displacement
  • Habitat suitability
  • Wind turbine
  • Before-after-control-impact design