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  1. Examining the Potential for Agricultural Benefits from Pollinator Habitat at Solar Facilities in the United States

    Of the many roles insects serve for ecosystem function, pollination is possibly the most important service directly linked to human well-being. However, land use changes have contributed to the decline of pollinators and their habitats. In agricultural landscapes that also support renewable energy developments such as utility-scale solar energy [USSE] facilities, opportunities may exist to conserve insect pollinators and locally restore their ecosystem services through the implementation of vegetation management approaches that aim to provide and maintain pollinator habitat at USSE facilities. As a first step toward understanding the potential agricultural benefits of solar-pollinator habitat, we identified areas of overlapmore » between USSE facilities and surrounding pollinator-dependent crop types in the United States (U.S.). Using spatial data on solar energy developments and crop types across the U.S., and assuming a pollinator foraging distance of 1.5 km, we identified over 3,500 km2 of agricultural land near existing and planned USSE facilities that may benefit from increased pollination services through the creation of pollinator habitat at the USSE facilities. The following five pollinator-dependent crop types accounted for over 90% of the agriculture near USSE facilities, and these could benefit most from the creation of pollinator habitat at existing and planned USSE facilities: soybeans, alfalfa, cotton, almonds, and citrus. We discuss how our results may be used to understand potential agro-economic implications of solar-pollinator habitat. Our results show that ecosystem service restoration through the creation of pollinator habitat could improve the sustainability of large-scale renewable energy developments in agricultural landscapes.« less
  2. A preliminary assessment of avian mortality at utility-scale solar energy facilities in the United States

    Despite the benefits of reduced toxic and carbon emissions and a perpetual energy resource, there is potential for negative environmental impacts resulting from utility-scale solar energy (USSE) development. Although USSE development may represent an avian mortality source, there is little knowledge regarding the magnitude of these impacts in the context of other avian mortality sources. In this study we present a first assessment of avian mortality at USSE facilities through a synthesis of available avian monitoring and mortality information at existing USSE facilities. Using this information, we contextualize USSE avian mortality relative to other forms of avian mortality at 2more » spatial scales: a regional scale (confined to southern California) and a national scale. Systematic avian mortality information was available for three USSE facilities in the southern California region. We estimated annual USSE-related avian mortality to be between 16,200 and 59,400 birds in the southern California region, which was extrapolated to between 37,800 and 138,600 birds for all USSE facilities across the United States that are either installed or under construction. We also discuss issues related to avian–solar interactions that should be addressed in future research and monitoring programs.« less
  3. Spatial Ecology of Blanding’s Turtles (Emydoidea blandingii) in Southcentral New Hampshire with Implications to Road Mortality

    Understanding the spatial ecology and habitat requirements of rare turtle species and the factors that threaten their populations is important for the success of long-term conservation programs. We present results on an eight-year field study in which we used radiotelemetry to monitor the activity and habitat use of 23 adult (male, n = 7; female, n = 16) Blanding’s turtles in southcentral New Hampshire. We found that females occupied home ranges (as defined by minimum convex polygons) that were approximately two times larger than the home ranges of males. Despite the sex difference in home range size, we found nomore » sex difference in core area size (defined as the 50% kernel density estimate). We found that activity patterns varied by season, with increased activity each month after hibernation, and peak activity coinciding with the late spring-early summer nesting season. We observed sex-based and seasonal differences in wetland use. Males appeared to prefer emergent and scrub-shrub wetlands in each season, whereas females preferred scrub-shrub wetlands in spring and ponds in summer and fall. We identified road mortality risk as a potentially important threat for this population because females crossed roads ten times more frequently than males (based on proportion of observations). The preservation of wetland networks, as well as the implementation of measures to minimize road mortality, are important considerations for the long-term persistence of this population.« less
  4. 2012 Reassessment of Floodplain Wetland Connections in the Middle Green River, Utah

    This report presents the results of floodplain wetland connection surveys conducted in 2012 at eight priority floodplain wetlands along the middle Green River between Jensen and Ouray, Utah. Surveys were conducted at levee breaches and within channels leading from the breaches to the wetlands (referred to here as connection channels) to characterize the flows needed to connect the river's main channel with the floodplain wetlands.
  5. Understanding Emerging Impacts and Requirements Related to Utility-Scale Solar Development

    Utility-scale solar energy plays an important role in the nation’s strategy to address climate change threats through increased deployment of renewable energy technologies, and both the federal government and individual states have established specific goals for increased solar energy development. In order to achieve these goals, much attention is paid to making utility-scale solar energy cost-competitive with other conventional energy sources, while concurrently conducting solar development in an environmentally sound manner.
  6. Bibliography of Literature for Avian Issues in Solar and Wind Energy and Other Activities

    Utility-scale solar energy has been a rapidly expanding energy sector in the United States in recent years and is expected to continue to grow. In 2014, concerns were raised over the risk of avian fatalities associated with utility-scale solar plants. With funding from the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Program, Argonne National Laboratory and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory studied the issue and released A Review of Avian Monitoring and Mitigation Information at Existing Utility-Scale Solar Facilities (ANL/EVS-15/2, March 2015). A comprehensive literature review included peer-reviewed journal articles on avian fatalities from solar energy facilities and other sources (e.g., windmore » energy, building collisions, etc.), project-specific technical reports on avian monitoring and fatality at solar facilities, information on mitigation measures and best management practices, and literature pertaining to avian behavioral patterns and habitat use. The source citations are listed in this bibliography; they are current through December 2014.« less
  7. A Review of Avian Monitoring and Mitigation Information at Existing Utility-Scale Solar Facilities

    There are two basic types of solar energy technology: photovoltaic and concentrating solar power. As the number of utility-scale solar energy facilities using these technologies is expected to increase in the United States, so are the potential impacts on wildlife and their habitats. Recent attention is on the risk of fatality to birds. Understanding the current rates of avian mortality and existing monitoring requirements is an important first step in developing science-based mitigation and minimization protocols. The resulting information also allows a comparison of the avian mortality rates of utility-scale solar energy facilities with those from other technologies and sources,more » as well as the identification of data gaps and research needs. This report will present and discuss the current state of knowledge regarding avian issues at utility-scale solar energy facilities.« less

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"Walston, Leroy J."

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