Wednesday, 21 November, 2018

Wind Turbines Are Impacting Ecology in Western Ghats

Wind turbines act like 'super predators' changing ecosystems by removing birds of prey Wind turbines are impacting ecology in Western Ghats
Cary Marshall | 09 November, 2018, 08:45

Wind farms play an essential role in humanity's mission to transition towards a 100% renewable energy future, but although their impact on the environment is minimal compared to that of fossil fuels, wind turbines are not entirely benign.

They found that predatory raptor birds were four times rarer in areas of plateau where wind turbines were present, a disruption that cascaded down the food chain and radically altered the density and behavior of the birds' prey.

The impact of wind farms on flying species has been well documented, with turbines reducing the number of birds and bats in an area and disrupting migration routes.

Researchers of Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru, found that wind turbines can act as top predators in ecosystems by driving down numbers as well as activity of birds of prey and triggering knock-on effects across food chains - it results in an increase in the density of vertebrates like lizards on the ground.

The areas where wind turbines are operational have fewer predatory birds (for example, Buteo, Butastur and Elanus species), which consequently, but have a higher density of lizards, such as Sarada superba.

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Most wind farms in the world are located on the open plains where the birds feel at home.

In order to record changes in the physiology of lizards, researchers measured hormonal stress reactivity. The lizards' stress (corticosterone) levels were also far lower than those in areas without wind turbines. Blood samples were collected from lizards picked up from both sites - areas with wind farm and area without wind farms.

As the levels of raptors fell around the turbines, so too did the rate of predatory attacks the lizards had to deal with.

Thaker told The Telegraph, 'Every time a top predator is removed or added, unexpected effects trickle through the ecosystem.

The research team included Dr. Maria Thaker, Amod Zambre and Harshal Bhosale. Together we build journalism that is independent, credible and fearless.

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