Identifying birds' collision risk with wind turbines using a multidimensional utilization distribution method

Sam Khosravifard*, Andrew K. Skidmore, Babak Naimi, Valentijn Venus, Antonio R. Muñoz, Albertus G. Toxopeus

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Renewable energy plays a key role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. However, the expansion of wind farms has raised concerns about risks for bird collisions. We tested different methods used to understand whether birds' flight occurs over wind turbines and found kernel density estimators outperform other methods. Previous studies using kernel utilization distribution (KUD) have considered only the 2 horizontal dimensions (2D). However, if altitude is ignored, an unrealistic depiction of the situation may result because birds move in 3 dimensions (3D). We quantified the 3D space use of the Griffon vulture (Gyps fulvus) in El Estrecho natural park in Tarifa (southern Spain, on the northern shore of the Strait of Gibraltar) during 2012–2013, and, for the first time, their risk of collision with wind turbines in an area in the south of Spain. The 2D KUD showed a substantial overlap of the birds' flight paths with the wind turbines in the study area, whereas the 3D kernel estimate did not show such overlap. Our aim was to develop a new approach using 3D kernel estimation to understand the space use of soaring birds; these are killed by collision with wind turbines more often than any other bird types in southern Spain. We determined the probability of bird collision with an obstacle within its range. Other potential application areas include airfields, plane flight paths, and tall buildings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)191-199
Number of pages9
JournalWildlife Society Bulletin
Volume44
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2020
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2020. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.

Keywords

  • 3D kernel
  • animal tracking
  • collision
  • Griffon vulture
  • Gyps fulvus
  • kernel density estimator
  • space use
  • Spain
  • utilization distribution
  • wind turbine

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