Turbines have been used to harness energy from wind for hundreds of years. However, with growing concerns about climate change, wind energy has only recently entered the mainstream of global electricity production. Since early on in the development of wind-energy production, concerns have arisen about the potential impacts of turbines to wildlife; these concerns have especially focused on the mortality of birds. Despite recent improvements to turbines that have resulted in reduced mortality of birds, there is clear evidence that bat mortality at wind turbines is of far greater conservation concern. Bats of certain species are dying by the thousands at turbines across North America, and the species consistently affected tend to be those that rely on trees as roosts and most migrate long distances. Turbine-related bat mortalities are now affecting nearly a quarter of all bat species occurring in the United States and Canada. Most documented bat mortality at wind-energy facilities has occurred in late summer and early fall and has involved tree bats, with hoary bats (Lasiurus cinereus) being the most prevalent among fatalities. This literature synthesis and annotated bibliography focuses on refereed journal publications and theses about bats and wind-energy development in North America (United States and Canada). Thirty-six publications and eight theses were found, and their key findings were summarized. These publications date from 1996 through 2011, with the bulk of publications appearing from 2007 to present, reflecting the relatively recent conservation concerns about bats and wind energy. The idea for this Open-File Report formed while organizing a joint U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/U.S. Geological Survey "Bats and Wind Energy Workshop," on January 25-26, 2012. The purposes of the workshop were to develop a list of research priorities to support decision making concerning bats with respect to siting and operations of wind-energy facilities across the United States. This document was intended to provide background information for the workshop participants on what has been published on bats and wind-energy issues in North America (United States and Canada).
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Bats and wind energy: a literature synthesis and annotated bibliography