New Mexico-based Mesalands Community College has announced that graduate students and professors from Oregon State University will be utilizing Mesalands' wind turbine, located adjacent to the North American Wind Research and Training Center, to evaluate wind farms' potential impact on bird and bat fatalities.
According to Mesalands, the research will explore possible risks to these animals including reduction in habitat, disruptions of migratory pathways, injury/mortality through collision, and injury/mortality in wake vortices. Oregon State University will mount vibration sensors to the wind blades, and impact data will then be collected by launching tennis balls directly at the blades. Mesalands says sensor output will be correlated to allow a quantification of impacts in terms of vibration.
"For the most part, bird fatalities are caused by impact, whereas in bats the cause is the pressure wave hitting the bat," says Jim Morgan, director of the North American Wind Research and Training Center at Mesalands. "This scientific research is especially important for birds that are of an endangered species. Also, in some agricultural areas bats play a significant role in crop success."