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Title: An effective survey method for studying volant species activity and behavior at tall structures

Abstract

The effects of anthropogenic modification of air space on wildlife, particularly volant species, is not fully understood. Thus, it is essential to understand wildlife-interactions with tall structures to implement effective mitigation strategies. Yet, we are currently lacking standard protocols for visual surveys of wildlife behavior at such heights. Our study sought to determine an effective, repeatable method using readily available night vision and thermal technology to survey wildlife at tall structures. Using bats as the taxonomic group of interest, we (1) created a key to identify bats and their behavior, (2) compared the effectiveness of 2 different technologies, and (3) assessed optimal equipment placement to visually capture bat activity and behavior in proximity to wind turbine towers. For the latter, we tested thermal cameras at four distances from the base of the tower. The results of our study revealed that thermal cameras captured ∼34% more flying animals than night vision at a 2 m distance. However, due to the heat signature of the turbine towers themselves, it was challenging to identify behaviors and interactions that occurred in close proximity to the towers. In contrast, it was difficult to identify bats approaching the towers using night vision, yet we were ablemore » to clearly observe interactions with the towers themselves. With regards to equipment placement, we visually captured more bats with the thermal cameras placed 2 m from the tower base compared to farther distances. From our findings, we recommend that when using either thermal or night vision technology at tall structures, they be placed 2 m from the base to effectively observe interactions along the length of these structures. In addition, we further recommend that consideration be given to the use of these two technology types together to effectively conduct such surveys. If these survey techniques are incorporated into standard protocols, future surveys at a variety of tall structures are likely to become comparable and repeatable, thereby more effectively informing any mitigation strategies that may be required.« less

Authors:
 [1];  [2];  [1]
  1. Department of Environmental Sciences, Texas Christian University, Fort Worth, TX, United States of America
  2. Department of Biology, Texas Christian University, Fort Worth, TX, United States of America
Publication Date:
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE
OSTI Identifier:
1599238
Grant/Contract Number:  
EE0007033; P23113
Resource Type:
Published Article
Journal Name:
PeerJ
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Name: PeerJ Journal Volume: 8; Journal ID: ISSN 2167-8359
Publisher:
PeerJ
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English

Citation Formats

Huzzen, Brynn E., Hale, Amanda M., and Bennett, Victoria J. An effective survey method for studying volant species activity and behavior at tall structures. United States: N. p., 2020. Web. doi:10.7717/peerj.8438.
Huzzen, Brynn E., Hale, Amanda M., & Bennett, Victoria J. An effective survey method for studying volant species activity and behavior at tall structures. United States. doi:10.7717/peerj.8438.
Huzzen, Brynn E., Hale, Amanda M., and Bennett, Victoria J. Wed . "An effective survey method for studying volant species activity and behavior at tall structures". United States. doi:10.7717/peerj.8438.
@article{osti_1599238,
title = {An effective survey method for studying volant species activity and behavior at tall structures},
author = {Huzzen, Brynn E. and Hale, Amanda M. and Bennett, Victoria J.},
abstractNote = {The effects of anthropogenic modification of air space on wildlife, particularly volant species, is not fully understood. Thus, it is essential to understand wildlife-interactions with tall structures to implement effective mitigation strategies. Yet, we are currently lacking standard protocols for visual surveys of wildlife behavior at such heights. Our study sought to determine an effective, repeatable method using readily available night vision and thermal technology to survey wildlife at tall structures. Using bats as the taxonomic group of interest, we (1) created a key to identify bats and their behavior, (2) compared the effectiveness of 2 different technologies, and (3) assessed optimal equipment placement to visually capture bat activity and behavior in proximity to wind turbine towers. For the latter, we tested thermal cameras at four distances from the base of the tower. The results of our study revealed that thermal cameras captured ∼34% more flying animals than night vision at a 2 m distance. However, due to the heat signature of the turbine towers themselves, it was challenging to identify behaviors and interactions that occurred in close proximity to the towers. In contrast, it was difficult to identify bats approaching the towers using night vision, yet we were able to clearly observe interactions with the towers themselves. With regards to equipment placement, we visually captured more bats with the thermal cameras placed 2 m from the tower base compared to farther distances. From our findings, we recommend that when using either thermal or night vision technology at tall structures, they be placed 2 m from the base to effectively observe interactions along the length of these structures. In addition, we further recommend that consideration be given to the use of these two technology types together to effectively conduct such surveys. If these survey techniques are incorporated into standard protocols, future surveys at a variety of tall structures are likely to become comparable and repeatable, thereby more effectively informing any mitigation strategies that may be required.},
doi = {10.7717/peerj.8438},
journal = {PeerJ},
number = ,
volume = 8,
place = {United States},
year = {2020},
month = {2}
}

Journal Article:
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DOI: 10.7717/peerj.8438

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