Decision Support Partnership for Assessing Bird Movements and Habitat Use in Interior Landscapes and the Upper Great Lakes

Windmills generating wind power in a grassy field

Wind energy development is emerging as one of the major controversial issues facing migratory bird management, especially in light of the public’s growing perception of wind energy’s potential detrimental effects on birds, and the rapid growth of the industry. Three DOI bureaus, the Fish and Wildlife Service, Geological Survey, and National Park Service, have recently recommended that research related to wind energy development is high priority in the Upper Midwest. Their “Report on Information Needs to Address Wind Power Development in the Midwest (February 2007)” identifies five potential projects, and in 2007 a joint partnership between the USGS Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center (UMESC) and Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center (NOROCK) was formed to address wind energy impacts on birds with the goal of developing a three-dimensional model to assess wind energy impacts to crane populations at Horicon National Wildlife Refuge (NWR). In 2010 the partnership secured additional funds through a USGS/BRD Alternative Energy Request proposal. These funds will assist both research Centers in building capacity to advance research and collaboration in two topic areas which differ in current information available and behavioral differences of migrating waterbirds and landbirds.

The long-term goal of the program is to develop, validate and implement a scalable landscape (or waterscape) two- and three-dimensional decision support tool that managers can use to assess potential turbine encounter risk and habitat avoidance of birds in areas being considered for wind development.