Environmental Management

, Volume 61, Issue 5, pp 796–804 | Cite as

A Comparison of the Impacts of Wind Energy and Unconventional Gas Development on Land-use and Ecosystem Services: An Example from the Anadarko Basin of Oklahoma, USA

  • Kendall M. Davis
  • Michael N. Nguyen
  • Maureen R. McClung
  • Matthew D. Moran


The United States energy industry is transforming with the rapid development of alternative energy sources and technological advancements in fossil fuels. Two major changes include the growth of wind turbines and unconventional oil and gas. We measured land-use impacts and associated ecosystem services costs of unconventional gas and wind energy development within the Anadarko Basin of the Oklahoma Woodford Shale, an area that has experienced large increases in both energy sectors. Unconventional gas wells developed three times as much land compared to wind turbines (on a per unit basis), resulting in higher ecosystem services costs for gas. Gas wells had higher impacts on intensive agricultural lands (i.e., row crops) compared to wind turbines that had higher impacts on natural grasslands/pastures. Because wind turbines produced on average less energy compared to gas wells, the average land-use-related ecosystem cost per gigajoule of energy produced was almost the same. Our results demonstrate that both unconventional gas and wind energy have substantial impacts on land use, which likely affect wildlife populations and land-use-related ecosystem services. Although wind energy does not have the associated greenhouse gas emissions, we suggest that the direct impacts on ecosystems in terms of land use are similar to unconventional fossil fuels. Considering the expected rapid global expansion of these two forms of energy production, many ecosystems are likely to be at risk.


Land-use Ecosystem services Unconventional gas Wind energy Anadarko Basin Woodford Shale 



We wish to thank the Hendrix College Odyssey Program for support of this project. Two anonymous reviewers provided valuable feedback that greatly improved the manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Standards

This study complies with all US laws. All appropriate approvals were obtained for the research. No animals were utilized.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of BiologyHendrix CollegeConwayUSA

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