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Birds of Prey pp 303-321 | Cite as

Impact of Renewable Energy Sources on Birds of Prey

  • James F. Dwyer
  • Melissa A. Landon
  • Elizabeth K. Mojica
Chapter

Abstract

Renewable energy is generated from natural processes that are replenished over time. Use of renewables reduces dependence of fossil fuels and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. These positive outcomes may be partially offset if renewables also have negative impacts. In this chapter, we evaluate potential direct and indirect impacts of renewables on birds of prey. We consider mortality, habitat loss, avoidance, and displacement at wind resource areas, biofuel agricultural sites, solar fields, and a variety of less-prevalent renewable energy facilities. We conclude that most renewable energy facilities are unlikely to have population-level effects on birds of prey, though individual territories likely are affected. However, specific sites, like wind resource areas in major bird of prey migration corridors or wintering areas, can have substantial effects. Industrial monocultures needed for biofuels also impact natural communities, including birds of prey. Developing solutions to mitigate these effects should be a conservation priority. Mitigation of bird of prey mortality at wind resource areas appears to be moving toward retrofitting power poles to prevent electrocutions, driven by the idea that reducing electrocution mortalities will compensate for inevitable collision mortalities. Mitigation for industrial monocultures involves setting aside conservation reserve areas as islands of habitat in seas of agriculture. It remains to be seen whether either of these approaches results in the actual conservation of the species, age, and sex classes affected by the processes being mitigated. Future research should compare the distributions of the specific individual birds of prey affected by renewable energy facilities (species, sex, age, conservation status, etc.), to the distributions of birds of prey benefitting from mitigation action.

Notes

Acknowledgments

We thank R.E. Harness for insights which guided this writing and EDM International, Inc. (Fort Collins, CO) for providing funding and logistical support.

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • James F. Dwyer
    • 1
  • Melissa A. Landon
    • 1
  • Elizabeth K. Mojica
    • 1
  1. 1.EDM International Inc.Fort CollinsUSA

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