Greater prairie-chickens’ nest survival appears unaffected by proximity to a small wind energy facility in Nebraska.
Credit: L. Powell
Wind energy development in the Great Plains is increasing, spurring concern about its potential effects on grassland birds, the most rapidly declining avian group in North America. However, a new study from The Condor: Ornithological Applications suggests that for one grassland bird species of concern — the Greater Prairie-Chicken — wind energy infrastructure has little to no effect on nesting. Instead, roads and livestock grazing remain the most significant threats to its successful reproduction.
“When comparing previous studies to our own, it appears that the effects of wind energy facilities on prairie grouse are often site- and species-specific,” says Harrison. “Therefore, it’s important to consider the results of our study in the context of the size and location of the wind energy facility, as well as the prairie grouse species investigated. We suggest that livestock grazing and other grassland management practices still have the most important regional effects on Greater Prairie-Chickens, but we caution future planners to account for potential negative effects of roads on nest site placement.”
Private landowners were key to completing the study, Harrison adds. “Our radio- and satellite-tagged Greater Prairie-Chickens made larger than expected movements while we were tracking them, which led us to require permission from new land owners on almost a weekly basis during our field seasons. Landowners throughout our field study area were always extremely welcoming and helpful, and genuinely interested in our work. Our project was a success due to more than 50 landowners who granted us access to their private lands.”
Story Source: Materials provided by University of Chicago Original written by Whitney Clavin.Note: Content may be edited for style and length.
Jocelyn Olney Harrison, Mary Bomberger Brown, Larkin A. Powell, Walter H. Schacht, Jennifer A. Smith. Nest site selection and nest survival of Greater Prairie-Chickens near a wind energy facility. The Condor, 2017; 119 (4): 659 DOI: 10.1650/CONDOR-17-51.1