I was pleased to be able to attend the 8th Wind and Wildlife Research Meeting, which took place in Denver from October 19-21. Sponsored by the National Wind Coordinating Collaborative, this event brings together folks from agencies, the academic research community, some NGOs, and the wind industry. The major focus is direct impacts on wildlife, including bat and bird strikes and habitat disruptions (see this recap of the meeting from NWCC, and view or download most presentations and posters here). This year, for the first time, noise had a place at the table, with an oral presentation by one of the lead researcher on the recent breakthrough National Park Service research into animal listening areas (see this AEInews post), and a poster by yours truly, embedded below.
In conversations with participants, there was a lot of interest in the emerging fact that even moderate noise levels can have a dramatic effect on animals nearby. I stressed the point that while noise may rarely be a primary factor in animal impacts, the increased stress caused by dealing with elevated noise levels can often create synergistic effects that amplify the effects of other known impacts.
My detailed poster introduced what is known about individual variability to noise within animal populations, summarized some impacts of moderate noise on wildlife, explained noise levels around wind farms, and suggested several situations in which noise impacts on a more-sensitive subset of the local population could be a factor in wind farm impact planning (click image to view on SlideShare, or click full screen to view larger):