Professors Researching Wind Energy, Bird Migration

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Todd Katzner, West Virginia University assistant professor in the division of forestry and natural resources department, and Phil Turk, assistant professor of statistics, are working to guide the development of wind power as an alternative to fuels and to keep the migratory pathways safe for golden eagles.

‘The goal of this project is to develop high-resolution spatial maps showing migration corridors of and habitat use by eastern golden eagles in regions of high potential for wind development,’ says Katzner. ‘These maps can then be used to guide safer development of wind energy, while also protecting a suite of species similar to golden eagles.’

To identify ways to mitigate the impacts of wind power development on eagles, Katzner, Turk and their collaborators will use a multi-step strategy, which includes the following:

– Expand existing fluid-flow models of raptor migration for the eastern U.S. to identify broad-scale migration patterns;

– Use new high-resolution bird-tracking devices to discover routes of passage and detailed flight behavior of individual golden eagles throughout the eastern U.S.; and

– Integrate these data and models to predict population-level migration patterns and individual flight behavior on migration.

The strategy will allow them to develop models that generate probable regional maps showing relative risk to birds from wind development, according to the professors.

The final goal of this research is to create a region-wide map of the relative risk to eagles of the development of wind power. These maps will allow for specific recommendations regarding the development of new wind farms and operation of existing wind farms.

SOURCE: West Virginia University

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