Turbines Kill So Many Birds They're Effectively an Apex Predator

09 Novembre, 2018, 08:46 | Auteur: Therese Cote
  • Electricity producing wind turbines at the Ngong Hills wind farm

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 nearly four times more birds of prey in areas without turbines.

Most from the negative effects of suffer from birds of prey.

The change had a knock-on effect on other animals normally eaten by the birds of prey - with an overabundance of lizards in those areas. It means wind turbines are acting as new apex predators in the food chain in the local ecosystem, says the study published in journal Nature Ecology & Evolution on Monday.

In particular, the team observed an explosion in the raptors' favorite meal - fan-throated lizards - in areas dominated by the turbines. They also took blood samples from 144 lizards that lived near wind turbines. The usually brilliant blue and orange colours that male lizards sport were less vibrant in individuals at wind farms: not a good sign, because colour intensities aid lizards in social communication, said study according to The Hindu report.

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In order to record changes in the physiology of lizards, researchers measured hormonal stress reactivity.

Maria Thaker and colleagues at the Indian Institute of Science in Bengaluru surveyed wildlife in India's Western Ghats, where wind turbines have been functioning for the past two decades. These lizards also had lower levels of corticosterone, a stress hormone, and allowed researchers to get closer before running away than in areas without turbines.

"Our central discovery is that wind turbines can act as top predators, by reducing the density and activity of birds, their prey are now released from the typical level of predation".

Thaker told The Telegraph, 'Every time a top predator is removed or added, unexpected effects trickle through the ecosystem. You can further help us by making a donation.

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