Wind farm 'predator' effect hits ecosystems

James Marshall
November 8, 2018

"We found that people began to settle closer because of birds of prey became less of their population in the area of wind farms fell by 75%".

After testing, the lizards near the turbines were found to have lower levels of a stress hormone - something that must have emerged in the two decades since wind farms were built in the Western Ghats.

In particular, the team observed an explosion in the raptors' favorite meal - fan-throated lizards - in areas dominated by the turbines.

Researchers of Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru, found that wind turbines can act as top predators in ecosystems by driving down numbers as well as activity of birds of prey and triggering knock-on effects across food chains - it results in an increase in the density of vertebrates like lizards on the ground.

The study was done in the Chalkewadi plateau in Satara district in the northern Western Ghats which is the site of one of the largest and longest-running wind farms in the region.

Ornithologists already named wind turbines "predators of our time". Researchers found nearly four times more predatory birds in areas without wind turbines than around wind farms. Here are a large number of wind power plants, which provoke the extinction of these birds, and lizards. They suggested similar effects would also probably be found around British wind farms.

In order to record changes in the physiology of lizards, researchers measured hormonal stress reactivity. Blood samples were collected from lizards picked up from both sites - areas with wind farm and area without wind farms.

By now, it's common knowledge that wind turbines reduce the number of local birds and bats, disrupting their migratory paths.

Furthermore, they saw significant changes in lizard behavior and appearance, living as though they were in an essentially predator-free environment. However, the assumption that wind turbines only affect flying species fails to take into account how fewer birds, who are often predators, can change an ecosystem's dynamic.

Maria Thaker, of the Indian Institute of Science, said she conducted the research because of the effect of wind turbines on raptors. You can further help us by making a donation.

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