An international team of scientists finds that rapeseed young birds are 4 times more rare in areas where wind turbines are present
PARIS, France – Wind farms act as a major "predator" in some ecosystems, damaging birds at the top of the food chain and causing an impact effect neglected by green energy advocates, scientists said on Monday, November 5.
The wind is the sector of renewable energies of greater growth, which supposes a 4% of the global electrical demand.
About 17 million hectares, an area almost the size of Tunisia, is currently used to generate wind energy worldwide, and researchers have warned that developers "underestimated" the impact technology has on wildlife.
In new research, an international team of scientists studied the effects of the use of wind turbines in Western Ghats, a series of mountains and forests that cover the West Coast region of India and a global "access point" of biodiversity.
They found that rapacious prey birds were 4 times more rare in areas where wind turbines were present, an interruption that fits the food chain and radically altered the density and behavior of prey.
In particular, the team observed an explosion in the favorite food of boys, fan-throated lizards, in areas dominated by turbines.
In addition, they saw significant changes in the behavior and appearance of the lizard, living as they were in an environment essentially free of predators.
"What we have noticed was the great changes in the behavior, morphology and physiology of these lizards," said Agence France-Presse María Thaker, assistant professor at the Center for Ecological Sciences of the Indian Institute of Sciences and author of the main study.
As the levels of boys fell around the turbines, the rate of predatory attacks on lizards had to be treated.
As a result, the team discovered that the lizards that lived in and around the wind farms had reduced their surveillance against possible danger.
By simulating "predator attacks", humans in the study could reach up to 5 times closer to a lizard in the wind farms than the one that lived away from the turbines before the creatures fled.
"Be smart with green energy"
After the test, the lizards near the windmills found themselves with lower levels of stress hormone, something that had to emerge in the two decades since wind parks were built in the Western Ghats.
Wind farms are harmful to birds, disrupt their migration patterns and cause mortification rates above the average.
Thaker said that his research, published in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution, demonstrated that wind farms replicated the role of the top predator of the food chain while keeping raptors on the sidelines.
"They trigger changes in the balance of animals in an ecosystem as if they were the main predators," he said.
"They are the" predators "of predatory birds – not in the sense of killing them, but reducing the presence of children in those areas."
As man-made carbon emissions continue to rise, Thaker said wind power was vital to mitigate the effects of climate change.
But with evidence that the impact of the wind farms reaches Earth's ecosystems than previously thought, she called for a greater consideration of the environmental impact of the green energy source.
"Decades have been devoted to scientists to understand that wind turbines negatively affected the flying animals," said Thaker.
"We need to be smart about how we implement green energy solutions. We reduce our track on the planet and put turbines in places that are already disturbed in some way – in buildings, for example." – Rappler.com
Image of the Shutterstock wind turbine