Genetic Approaches Are Necessary to Accurately Understand Bat-Wind Turbine Impacts
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Bats are killed at wind energy facilities worldwide and we must improve our understanding of why this is happening and implement effective strategies to minimize impacts. To this end, we need accurate assessments of which individuals from which bat species are being killed at individual wind projects and at regional and range-wide scales. Traditional fatality searches have relied on physical characteristics to ascertain species and sex of bat carcasses collected at wind turbines; however, the resulting data can be incomplete and inaccurate. In contrast, the use of readily available and low-cost molecular methods improves both the quality and quantity of available data. We applied such methods to a bat fatality dataset (n = 439 bats) from far-south Texas, USA. Using DNA barcoding, we increased accurate species identification from 83% to 97%, and discovered the presence of 2 bat species outside of their known geographic ranges. Using a PCR-based approach to determine sex, the number of carcasses with correct sex assignment increased from 35% to 94%, and we documented a female-biased sex ratio for all species combined and for Dasypterus ega. We recommend that molecular methods be used during future survey efforts to accurately assess the impacts of wind energy on bats.
CitationChipps, A. S., Hale, A. M., Weaver, S. P., & Williams D. A. (2020). Genetic approaches are necessary to accurately understand bat-wind turbine impacts. Diversity, 12(6), 236.
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