Bats and Wind Turbines: Research at the Reese Technology Center

Sandia National Laboratories, in partnership with Texas Tech University and Group NIRE, are currently carrying out a project in which three wind turbines were installed at the Reese Technology Center (website link: http://energy.sandia.gov/?page_id=7942). The test facility will use this equipment, and the potential of additional turbines in the future, to explore new technologies in wind engineering.

Given that wind turbines have been associated with mortality in several chiropteran (bat) species, we are carrying out pre- and post- construction surveys to assess influences of turbines on bats. It is well documented that bats can be caught in the vortices generated by turbine blades and either be killed directly by being struck or suffer pulmonary edema as a result of the increased air pressure. We are gathering data than can be used to determine the effects (if any) that wind turbines might have on resident and migratory bat species in the region.

1. Study area, the Reese Technology Center, the Reese Golf Course, and the Reese Airpark

 

Activities:

  • Set up passive monitoring stations using the AnaBat system to continuously record bats in the area.
  • Mist-netting and active acoustic surveys (AnaBat) to capture and identify bat species.
  • Visual surveys of buildings that may serve as roosting sites or maternal colonies.
  • Inspection of areas near turbines for evidence of bat mortality.

2. Location of mist-netting sites at the Reese Golf Course area. Active acoustic monitoring was carried out around all mist netting sites.

3. Mist netting at the Reese Center Golf Course irrigation ponds

4. Location of the passive monitoring stations (AnaBat system) to continuously record bats in the area.

5. Passive monitoring AnaBat system installed at site 1, weather tower at 50 m of altitude (microphone indicated with the yellow circle).

Results

  • Several species of insect-eating bats have been recorded and identified with the passive monitoring stations.
  • Although acoustic data shows bat presence, we were not able to catch any bats using mist nets.
  • No roosting sites, nor bat mortality were identified near the one working turbine.


6. Acoustic call of Lasionycteris cf. noctivagans (Family Vespertilionidae).

 

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