Predation risk: a potential mechanism for effects of a wind energy facility on Greater Prairie-Chicken survival

dc.contributor.authorSmith, J. A.en
dc.contributor.authorBrown, M. B.en
dc.contributor.authorHarrison, J. O.en
dc.contributor.authorPowell, L. A.en
dc.contributor.departmentBiological Sciencesen
dc.description.abstractRecent expansion of the wind energy industry has raised concerns about the potential effects of wind energy facilities on prairie grouse. For example, efforts have been made to evaluate indirect effects on prairie grouse survival, but it is also critical to investigate the underlying mechanisms to direct conservation strategies. The objective of this study was to investigate the indirect effects of a wind energy facility on the survival of female Greater Prairie-Chickens (Tympanuchus cupido pinnatus) and on the occupancy of avian and mammalian predators. Between March and July of 2013 and 2014, we investigated spatial variation in predation risk by sampling occupancy of mammalian and avian predators within 10 km of a wind energy facility constructed in 2005 in Brown County, Nebraska, USA. During the same period, we assessed spatial variation in daily survival of radio-marked females within the same area. We found little evidence that probability of site occupancy (Psi) of avian predators was lower near the wind energy facility (within 2 km: Psi = 0.70, 95% CI = 0.22-0.95; beyond 2 km: Psi = 0.93, 95% CI = 0.02-1.00), suggesting that avian predators did not display local-scale avoidance behavior around wind turbines. Mammalian predators were documented at all of our sample locations, but the capture index for all mammals was lower at sample sites near the wind turbines (P = 0.004). Occupancy of coyotes (Canis latrans), the likely main mammalian predator of adult prairie-chickens in the area, did not vary significantly throughout our study site (within 0.5 km of wind energy facility: Psi = 0.65, 95% CI = 0.07-0.98; beyond 0.5 km: Psi = 0.96, 95% CI = 0.04-1.00), although trends were in the direction expected if coyotes were avoiding the wind energy facility. Distance to wind turbine had no effect on daily survival (S-D) of female prairie-chickens (S-D = 0.9948, S-E = 0.0015). The potential for predators to avoid wind energy facilities, and thus affect predation risk, underscores the complexity of planning to address potential impacts of wind energy as variation in predation risk may have consequences for the population viability of a wide range of species at risk from wind energy development.en
dc.description.notesThis project was funded with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Wildlife Restoration dollars administered by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. Larkin A. Powell was supported by Hatch Act funds through the University of Nebraska Agricultural Research Division, Lincoln, Nebraska. Mary Bomberger Brown was supported by the Nebraska Environmental Trust and the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. Jocelyn O. Harrison was supported by a Graduate Research Fellowship Program from the National Science Foundation. All authors conceived the idea and design of the study and wrote the manuscript, Jocelyn O. Harrison and Jennifer A. Smith collected the data, and Larkin A. Powell and Jennifer A. Smith analyzed the data. Animal capture and handing protocols were approved by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Institutional Animal Care Use and Committee (Protocol no. 650). We thank the Nebraska Department of Roads and Scott Hyngstrom (University of Nebraska- Lincoln) who provided trail cameras. For assistance, we thank Nate Bieber, Candice Doyle, Michelle Dvoracek, Matthew Gonnerman, Emily Kermath, Jeff Lusk, Rocky Plettner, Jackie Mather, Lindsey Sanders, Elsie Shogren, Tyler Trump, Nate Turner, Bill Vodehnal, Chris Walnofer, and Cara Whalen. We thank numerous private land owners and the Nebraska Public Power District who allowed us access to their property. We thank Lance McNew, Virginia Winder, and an anonymous reviewer for insightful comments that helped improve this manuscript.en
dc.description.sponsorshipU.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Wildlife Restoration - Hatch Act funds through University of Nebraska Agricultural Research Division, Lincoln, Nebraska.en
dc.description.sponsorshipNebraska Environmental Trusten
dc.description.sponsorshipNebraska Game and Parks Commissionen
dc.description.sponsorshipGraduate Research Fellowship Program from the National Science Foundationen
dc.publisherEcological Society of Americaen
dc.rightsCreative Commons Attribution 4.0 Internationalen
dc.subjectGreater Prairie-Chickenen
dc.subjectprairie grouseen
dc.subjectrenewable energyen
dc.subjectTympanuchus cupido pinnatusen
dc.subjectwind farmen
dc.titlePredation risk: a potential mechanism for effects of a wind energy facility on Greater Prairie-Chicken survivalen
dc.typeArticle - Refereeden


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