Track: Biology and Behavior (bats, eagles and other species)
Sensitive bat species in Colorado and their relative susceptibilities to wind farm impacts
Presentation Description: The United States Fish and Wildlife Service Wind Energy Guidelines includes Tier 1, Tier 2, and Tier 3 studies to evaluate the potential likelihood of sensitive bat species to be impacted by wind farm projects. While these assessments are important to informing siting decisions, it can be difficult for developers to acquire information on the geographic distributions of sensitive bat species and the susceptibilities of those species to wind farms. This is particularly true in the western United States, where there is relatively little data on bat populations. Colorado, which passed the first voter-led Renewable Energy Standard in the nation, is a hotspot for wind energy development; however, relatively little is known about interactions with sensitive bat species and wind energy in the state. In this poster, we synthesize information on preferred habitat types, migration routes, and behavior patterns for four species identified by the Colorado Parks and Wildlife State Wildlife Action Plan as of highest conservation concern: fringed myotis (Myotis thysanodes), little brown myotis (Myotis lucifugus), spotted bat (Euderma maculatum), and Townsend’s big-eared bat (Corynorhinus townsendii). For each species, we develop a risk matrix that evaluates the relative susceptibility to direct (e.g., collision with blades) and indirect (e.g., habitat fragmentation) wind farm impacts. We compare our risk matrix with published data on bat fatalities to assess the strengths and weaknesses of using the matrix as a predictive model for bat fatalities.