Study reveals birds have a new predator: wind turbines.
Wind power turbines and wildlife, especially birds, may not be compatible, according to new findings from a study published in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution. The study, conducted by a team of scientists lead by Dr. Maria Thaker from the Indian Institute of Science in Bengaluru, found that predatory raptor birds were four times rarer in areas of an Indian mountain range where a wind energy farm had been installed.
The findings suggested that the birds were purposely avoiding the structures.
Moreover, in these areas where there were few to no raptor birds, there was an increase in fan-throated lizards, the birds’ typical prey. As such, these lizards that have grown in numbers are now more confident and less scared of humans due to lack of predators in the region.
What does this mean? According to the study, wind power turbines can act as a “new apex predator” in certain ecosystems by driving down bird population and triggering knock-on effects across food chains.
“We have basically added a new apex predator – a wind turbine,” Dr Maria Thaker told The Independent.
“What that predator does is remove the level below it – not kill it, but the outcome is the same.”
Greater care needs to be taken in regard to where wind power turbines are placed in the environment.
While this study does provide new insight into the negative effects wind energy farms can have on ecosystems, it’s not the first time scientists have become aware of the impact wind turbines can have on wildlife. Several studies have documented the effects these massive structures can have on birds and bats, in particular.
In fact, one study reported by Hydrogen fuel news, revealed that scientists have been working on ways to help prevent wind turbine-related bat deaths.
Thaker’s study suggests that due to the potential cascading effects turbines can have on ecosystems, greater care should be taken to make certain that these structures are installed in areas where they can generate clean renewable energy without having dangerous and far-reaching consequences for nature.
While Thaker is in full support of the use of wind power turbines to generate electricity over fossil fuels, she says, “We just have to be smart about where we put them, so can we minimise our impact on the ecosystem by picking areas that are not unique in ways that we cannot replace.”