Effects of development of wind energy and associated changes in land use on bird densities in upland areas

Thumbnail Image
8247.pdf(858.11 KB)
Accepted version
Fernández-Bellon, Darío
Wilson, Mark W.
Irwin, Sandra
O'Halloran, John
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Published Version
Research Projects
Organizational Units
Journal Issue
Wind energy development is the most recent of many pressures on upland bird communities and their habitats. Studies of birds in relation to wind energy development have focused on effects of direct mortality, but the importance of indirect effects (e.g., displacement, habitat loss) on avian community diversity and stability is increasingly being recognized. We used a control‐impact study in combination with a gradient design to assess the effects of wind farms on upland bird densities and on bird species grouped by habitat association (forest and open‐habitat species). We conducted 506 point count surveys at 12 wind‐farm and 12 control sites in Ireland during 2 breeding seasons (2012 and 2013). Total bird densities were lower at wind farms than at control sites, and the greatest differences occurred close to turbines. Densities of forest species were significantly lower within 100 m of turbines than at greater distances, and this difference was mediated by habitat modifications associated with wind‐farm development. In particular, reductions in forest cover adjacent to turbines was linked to the observed decrease in densities of forest species. Open‐habitat species’ densities were lower at wind farms but were not related to distance from turbines and were negatively related to size of the wind farm. This suggests that, for these species, wind‐farm effects may occur at a landscape scale. Our findings indicate that the scale and intensity of the displacement effects of wind farms on upland birds depends on bird species’ habitat associations and that the observed effects are mediated by changes in land use associated with wind‐farm construction. This highlights the importance of construction effects and siting of turbines, tracks, and other infrastructure in understanding the impacts of wind farms on biodiversity.
Bird guilds , Displacement , Habitat modification , Uplands , Wind farms , Wind turbines , Cambio de uso de suelo , Desplazamiento , Gremios de aves , Tierras altas , Turbinas de viento , 鸟类同资源种团 , 被迫迁徙 , 生境改造 , 土地利用变化 , 山地 , 风电场 , 风力涡轮机 , Land‐use change , Campos eólicos , Modificación de hábitat
Fernández-Bellon, D., Wilson, M. W., Irwin, S. and O'Halloran, J. (2019) 'Effects of development of wind energy and associated changes in land use on bird densities in upland areas', Conservation Biology, 33(2), pp. 413-422. doi: 10.1111/cobi.13239
© 2018 Society for Conservation Biology. This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Fernández‐Bellon, D., Wilson, M.W., Irwin, S. and O'Halloran, J. (2019), Effects of development of wind energy and associated changes in land use on bird densities in upland areas. Conservation Biology, 33: 413-422, which has been published in final form at https://doi.org/10.1111/cobi.13239 This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving.