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Nat Ecol Evol. 2018 Dec;2(12):1854-1858. doi: 10.1038/s41559-018-0707-z. Epub 2018 Nov 5.

Wind farms have cascading impacts on ecosystems across trophic levels.

Author information

1
Centre for Ecological Sciences, Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru, India. mthaker@iisc.ac.in.
2
Centre for Ecological Sciences, Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru, India.
3
Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior, University of Minnesota, Saint Paul, MN, USA.

Abstract

Wind farms are a cleaner alternative to fossil fuels for mitigating the effects of climate change, but they also have complex ecological consequences. In the biodiversity hotspot of the Western Ghats in India, we find that wind farms reduce the abundance and activity of predatory birds (for example, Buteo, Butastur and Elanus species), which consequently increases the density of lizards, Sarada superba. The cascading effects of wind turbines on lizards include changes in behaviour, physiology and morphology that reflect a combination of predator release and density-dependent competition. By adding an effective trophic level to the top of food webs, we find that wind farms have emerging impacts that are greatly underestimated. There is thus a strong need for an ecosystem-wide view when aligning green-energy goals with environment protection.

PMID:
30397304
DOI:
10.1038/s41559-018-0707-z

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