When the excrement hits the fan: Fecal surveys reveal species-specific bat activity at wind turbines
The reasons why bats are coming into contact with wind turbines are not yet well understood. One hypothesis is that bats are attracted to wind turbines and this attraction may be because bats perceive or misperceive the turbines to provide a resource, such as a foraging or roosting site. During post-construction fatality searches at a wind energy facility in the southern Great Plains, U.S., we discovered bat feces near the base of a wind turbine tower, which led us to hypothesize that bats were actively roosting and/or foraging at turbines. Thus over 2 consecutive years, we conducted systematic searches for bat feces on turbines at this site. We collected 72 bat fecal samples from turbines and successfully extracted DNA from 56 samples. All 6 bat species known to be in the area were confirmed and the majority (59%) were identified as Lasiurus borealis; a species that also comprised the majority of the fatalities (60%) recorded at the site. The presence of bat feces provides further evidence that bats were conducting activities in close proximity to wind turbines. Moreover, feces found in areas such as turbine door slats indicated that bats were using turbines as night or foraging roosts, and further provided evidence that bats were active near the turbines. Future research should therefore aim to identify those features of wind turbines that bats perceive or misperceive as a resource, which in turn may lead to new minimization strategies that effectively reduce bat fatalities at wind farms.
KeywordsAttraction Bat-wind turbine interactions DNA barcoding Roosting Wind energy
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.
- Ammerman, L.K., Hice, C.L., Schmidly, D.J., 2011. Bats of Texas. Texas A&M University Press, College Station, Texas, USA, Texas.Google Scholar
- Bienz, C., 2015. Surface Texture Discrimination by Bats: Implications for Reducing Bat Mortality at Wind Turbines. M.S. Thesis. Texas Christian University.Google Scholar
- Lehnert, L.S., Kramer-Schadt, S., Schönborn, S., Lindecke, O., Niermann, I., Voigt, C.C., 2014. Wind farm facilities in Germany kill noctule bats from near and far. PLoS One 9(8), e103106.Google Scholar
- McAlexander, A., 2013. Evidence That Bats Perceive Wind Turbine Surfaces to Be Water. M.S. Thesis. Texas Christian University.Google Scholar
- Mitchell-Jones, A.J., McLeish, A.P., 2004. Bat Worker’s Manual, 3rd edition. Joint Nature Conservation Committee, Peterborough, UK.Google Scholar