Wind energy siting to minimize impacts to bats would benefit from impact predictions following pre-construction surveys, but whether pre- or even post-construction activity patterns can predict fatalities remains unknown. We tested whether bat passage rates through rotor-swept airspace differ between groups of wind turbines where bat fatalities were found and not found during next-morning dog searches for fatalities. Passage rates differed significantly and averaged four times higher where freshly killed bats were found in next-morning fatality searches. Rates of near misses and risky flight behaviors also differed significantly between groups of turbines where bats were found and not found, and rate of near misses averaged eight times higher where bat fatalities were found in next-morning searches. Hours of turbine operation averaged significantly higher, winds averaged more westerly, and the moon averaged more visible among turbines where and when bat fatalities were found. Although dogs found only one of four bats seen colliding with turbine blades, they found many more bat fatalities than did human-only searchers at the same wind projects, and our fatality estimates were considerably higher. Our rates of observed bat collisions, adjusted for the rates of unseen collisions, would predict four to seven times the fresh fatalities we found using dogs between two wind projects. Despite markedly improved carcass detection through use of dogs, best estimates of bat fatalities might still be biased low due to crippling bias and search radius bias.
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