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Fauna Collisions with Wind Turbines: Effects and Impacts, Individuals and Populations. What Are We Trying to Assess?

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Abstract

Current knowledge about bird and bat collisions with wind turbines in Australia is limited by a lack of consistent monitoring methods and of publicly available information where data have been collected. An overview of information that is available for mortalities and for collision modelling is provided and it suggests that frequency of collisions is generally low and unlikely to have significant impacts on population of many species. The perceptions and paradigms within which wind turbine collisions are considered are compared with aviation fauna collisions in Australia. Assessment by approval authorities of potential and actual bird and bat collisions have generally not been well focused on whether the levels of mortality involved influence viability of populations of species of concern. This is despite important regulatory policy that is clearly intended to ensure this approach. There is a great deal of potential to improve our understanding of bird and bat collisions with turbines and recommendations are made to ensure that assessments of collision rates are focused on determining whether they have impacts on populations of threatened taxa.

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Acknowledgements

This paper has been borne of involvement by Biosis with multiple wind farm projects and consequent numerous discussions with people interested in fauna collisions from all perspectives. These include wind energy companies, regulatory authorities in all south-eastern Australian jurisdictions, non-government bird and bat specialists and organisations, opponents of some facilities, and other fauna consultancies. All of them have shaped the ideas outlined here. I am grateful to the wind farm operators who kindly provided empirical information about bird and bat collisions at their facilities. This work has been a shared experience with zoology colleagues at Biosis over the past 10 years. I particularly thank Charles Meredith, Robert Baird, Mark Venosta and Aaron Harvey at Biosis, Cindy Hull of Hydro Tasmania and Stuart Muir and Elizabeth Stark of Symbolix. The paper benefitted substantially from constructive comments by Jenny Lau and Cindy Hull.

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Correspondence to Ian Smales .

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Smales, I. (2015). Fauna Collisions with Wind Turbines: Effects and Impacts, Individuals and Populations. What Are We Trying to Assess?. In: Hull, C., Bennett, E., Stark, E., Smales, I., Lau, J., Venosta, M. (eds) Wind and Wildlife. Springer, Dordrecht. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-017-9490-9_2

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