Factors associated with bat mortality at wind energy facilities in the United States


  • Drivers of variation in bat collision mortality among wind facilities are unclear.
  • We reviewed 218 bat collision studies at 100 North American wind energy facilities.
  • Amount of grassland best predicted and was inversely related to bat mortality.
  • This finding may reflect reduced bat activity and/or abundance in open landscapes.
  • Representative sampling of wind facilities is needed to validate this pattern.

Hundreds of thousands of bats are killed annually by colliding with wind turbines in the U.S., yet little is known about factors causing variation in mortality across wind energy facilities. We conducted a quantitative synthesis of bat collision mortality with wind turbines by reviewing 218 North American studies representing 100 wind energy facilities.

This data set, the largest compiled for bats to date, provides further evidence that collision mortality is greatest for migratory tree-roosting species (Hoary Bat [Lasiurus cinereus], Eastern Red Bat [Lasiurus borealis], Silver-haired Bat [Lasionycteris noctivagans]) and from July to October. Based on 40 U.S. studies meeting inclusion criteria and analyzed under a common statistical framework to account for methodological variation, we found support for an inverse relationship between bat mortality and percent grassland cover surrounding wind energy facilities. At a national scale, grassland cover may best reflect openness of the landscape, a factor generally associated with reduced activity and abundance of tree-roosting species that may also reduce turbine collisions. Further representative sampling of wind energy facilities is required to validate this pattern. Ecologically informed placement of wind energy facilities involves multiple considerations, including not only factors associated with bat mortality, but also factors associated with bird collision mortality, indirect habitat-related impacts to all species, and overall ecosystem impacts.

Thompson Etal Factors Associated With Bat Mortality Nihms 1504047

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SEP 14 2017
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