Wildlife and infrastructure: impact of wind turbines on bats in the Black Sea coast region

Abstract

In Eastern Europe, wind energy production is currently promoted as an important source of renewable energy, yet in most cases without appropriate consideration of the negative impacts wind turbines (WT) may have on protected species such as bats. Here, we present first data on fatality rates, fatality factors and the likely origin of bats killed by WT in the Dobrogea region (Romania), located in a major migratory corridor for wildlife in Eastern Europe. Over a 4-year period, we found a total of 166 bat carcasses from 10 species, mostly representing migratory species such as Pipistrellus nathusii and Nyctalus noctula. Most fatalities at WT occurred in July and August. We documented 15 cases of barotrauma and 34 cases of blunt-force trauma in carcasses found below WT. After adjusting for carcass removals and variations in searcher efficiency, we estimated for the 4-year study period a total of 2394 bat casualties at the studied WT facility consisting of 20 units, resulting in a mean fatality rate of 30 bats/WT/year, or 14.2 bats/MW/year. By implementing a curtailment measure at wind speeds below 6.5 m/s, we reduced fatality rates by 78%. Isoscape origin models based on hydrogen stable isotope ratios in fur keratin revealed that the majority of N. noctula that were killed by WT or captured nearby in mist nets originated from distant areas in the North (Ukraine, Belarus, Russia). The estimated high fatalitjegangy rates of bats at WT in this area have far-reaching consequences, particularly for populations of migratory bats, if no appropriate mitigation schemes are practised.

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Acknowledgements

We would like to thank the Babadag Wind Park managers for giving us full access to environmental data and for the long-term collaboration regarding conservation actions of bats in the region. We thank Doris Fichte and Yvonne Klaar for their help in the stable isotope laboratory. We thank Stephanie Kramer-Schadt for the help with statistical analysis. We thank Manuela Huso (United States Geological Survey) for help regarding the estimation of fatality rates. We acknowledge the work done by Marius Alexandru Ciocănău, at the Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences, University of Bucharest, Romania, for identifying the cause of death for the bat carcasses. Other valuable field activities were conducted with the help of Liviu Bufnilă, Marcel Ţîbîrnac, Mihai Ventoniuc, Gabriel Chişamera and Alexandra Doba. We are grateful to the anonymous reviewers for their suggestions that improved the manuscript.

Funding

Oana Teodora Moldovan was supported by a grant of the Ministry of Research and Innovation, CNCS - UEFISCDI, project number PN-III-P4-ID-PCCF-2016-0016, within PNCDI III. Kseniia Kravchenko expresses gratitude to The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) for Green Talents Award 2015 which provided great opportunity of research stay at IZW. The field visit of Kseniia Kravchenko and Anton Vlaschenko to Romania were supported by EUROBATS project initiative in the frame of ‘Trans-border collaboration in bat migration research in Eastern Europe and the Black Sea region, 2014’ project.

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Appendix

Appendix

The list of bat mortalities at the Babadag Wind Park, 2013–2016

Abbreviations: Bat species acronyms: ESER – Eptesicus serotinus; HSAV – Hypsugo savii; MYOSP – Myotis sp.; NLEI – Nyctalus leisleri; NNOC – Nyctalus noctula; PKUL – Pipistrellus kuhlii; PNAT – Pipistrellus nathusii, PPIP – Pipistrellus pipistrellus; PPYG – Pipistrellus pygmaeus, PIPSP – Pipistrellus sp.; VMUR – Vespertilio murinus. Structure of citation: date (mm/yy), species, no. individuals (in the case of isolated individuals, no numbers have been aded), sex (♀- female, ♂ - male), age (ad – adult, sad-sub adult, juv – juvenile). In case of missing data, the n/a (not available) symbol was used, for example: PNAT n/a – no information about sex and age, or PNAT ♂n/a – no information about age. Each sex-age-n/a group was divided by a coma. Species belonging to the same date were delimited by semicolons and different months were delimited by a point

4.13 – PNAT ♂n/a, ♀n/a, n/a; PPIP ♂n/a, n/a ad; PIPSP n/a; VMUR n/a ad; NNOC ♂n/a. 05.13 – PNAT 2n/a. 06.13 – PNAT 2n/a; PPIP n/a; PIPSP n/a. 07.13 – PKUL ♂ad; PIPSP n/a ad, 2n/a; VMUR 3n/a. 08.13 – PNAT 3♂ad, 2♀ad, n/a juv; PKUL 2♂ad, n/a ad; PPYG ♂ad, n/a ad; PIPSP ♂juv, n/a juv, n/a ad, 3 n/a; NNOC ♂ad, 3♀ad, 2n/a; VMUR ♂ad, 3n/a. 04.14 – PNAT 7♂ad, ♂n/a, 4♀ad. 05.14 – PNAT 3♂ad, ♀ad; PKUL 2♂ad; PIPSP ♂ad; MYOSP n/a ad, ♂ad. 06.14 – PNAT 2♂ad, 2♀ad; NNOC ♀ad; NLEI 2♀n/a. 07.14 – PNAT ♂ad, n/a; PIPSP ♀ad; ESER ♂ad; NNOC ♂ad, ♂n/a, n/a ad, 2n/a; NLEI ♂ad, ♀n/a, n/a ad. 08.14 – PNAT ♀ad, ♂juv, 2n/a ad; HSAV ♂n/a; NNOC 2♂ad, ♀ad, n/a ad, 2n/a. 09.14 – PNAT 2♂ad, 3♀ad; PPYG n/a ad; PIPSP n/a ad; NNOC ♂ad, ♀ad, 2n/a ad, n/a; HSAV n/a. 10.14 – PNAT ♂ad, ♂n/a, n/a ad; NNOC ♀ad, 2n/a ad, n/a. 11.14 – PNAT ♀ad. 04.15 – PNAT ♂ad; NNOC ♀ad. 05.15 – PNAT ♂ad, PIPSP 2n/a, VMUR n/a ad. 06.15 – NNOC n/a. 07.15 – PNAT ♂ad; PIPSP 3n/a. 08.15 – PNAT ♂ad, 2♀ad; NNOC 2♂ad, 2n/a ad. 09.15 – PIPSP 3n/a. 5.16 – PNAT ♂ad; PPYG ♂n/a, PIPSP 2n/a; NNOC ♀ad. 7.16 – PNAT ♂ad; NNOC ♀ad; NLEI ♂ad.; VMUR n/a. 8.16 – PNAT ♂n/a; PPIP ♂ad; PIPSP 3n/a; NNOC 3♂ad, ♀ad, 2n/a. 9.16 – PNAT ♂ad; PPYG ♀n/a; PIPSP n/a; NNOC 2♀ad, n/a.

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Măntoiu, D.Ş., Kravchenko, K., Lehnert, L.S. et al. Wildlife and infrastructure: impact of wind turbines on bats in the Black Sea coast region. Eur J Wildl Res 66, 44 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10344-020-01378-x

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Keywords

  • Bat migration
  • Wind energy
  • Infrastructure
  • Post-construction monitoring
  • Stable isotopes
  • Nyctalus noctula