Wildlife & Renewable Energy Program
Since 2009, BRI wildlife biologist Kate Williams and colleagues have studied the migration and movement patterns of birds and bats over the Gulf of Maine and elsewhere on the Atlantic coast. BRI biologists have documented that migratory owls fly over open water, taking advantage of islands as stopover sites, and that migratory falcons will fly hundreds of miles out over the Atlantic on their way south to the Caribbean and South America.
This information begs a host of questions about how migrating birds and bats might be affected by offshore structures, such as wind turbines. Careful siting of renewable energy development seems to play a key role in minimizing impacts to wildlife, but this requires detailed knowledge of where animals breed, winter, and migrate. To address this need, BRI has established a wildlife and renewable energy program, and is involved in several areas of wind power research and marine spatial planning in the eastern United States.
“There are key information gaps for understanding potential impacts of marine wind power development.”
— Kate Williams, Program Director
Contributing Program Directors:
Chris DeSorbo, Dave Yates, Evan Adams, Iain Stenhouse, Andrew Gilbert, Patrick Keenan, Jim Paruk, Lucas Savoy
Contributing BRI Staff:
Wing Goodale, Kevin Regan, Marie Perkins, Tim Divoll
- Assess spatiotemporal interactions between energy facilities and wildlife (e.g., birds, bats, and other animals)
- Understand the individual and population-level distribution and movements of birds and bats in North America, with a focus on the Gulf of Maine and the western North Atlantic
Current BRI Projects
- Maryland Offshore Wildlife Studies, funded by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the Maryland Energy Administration. This effort expands BRI's offshore study of birds, mammals, and sea turtles in Maryland's state and federal waters (in collaboration with the College of Staten Island, North Carolina State University, Duke University, and HiDef Aerial Surveying Ltd).
- The Wildlife Science and Marine Wind Energy Initiative, a collaborative effort coordinated by BRI. The Initiative included the 2011 Spotlight on Ecoscience public presentation: The Ecological Impacts of Marine Wind Power Development in Europe, by Dr. Anthony Fox and Dr. Rowena Langston, and a scientific workshop held 8-9 November, 2011, whose goal was to develop a journal article identifying areas of scientific consensus regarding effects to wildlife from offshore wind power development.
- Characterizing bird and bat migration in the Thousand Islands region of New York State (with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service).
- Long-term banding station in coastal Maine
- Evaluating the importance of near shore sites and Maine coastal islands to migratory owls and falcons (co-run by BRI's Raptor Program with Maine Coast Heritage Trust)
- Atlantic and Great Lakes sea duck migration study (run by BRI’s Waterfowl Program working with USFWS Sea Duck Joint Venture)
- Common Eider migration and movement study in the western North Atlantic (run by BRI’s Waterfowl Program working with Maine Dept. Inland Fisheries and Wildlife)
- Bats in Acadia, Maine (with National Park Service)
- Understanding bat migration in coastal Massachusetts (run by BRI”s Mammal Program working with Parker River and Great Bay National Wildlife Refuges)
- Movements of Red-throated Loons along coastal US and eastern Canada (run by BRI’s Loon Center)
Eastern United States and the Great Lakes region, with a focus on the Gulf of Maine
Recent Publications and Technical Reports
- Williams, K.A., D. DellaSala, A. Fox, M.W. Goodale, R. Holberton, P. Jodice, B. Kinlan, S. Kraus, R. Langston, K. Sinclair, H. Souder, I. Stenhouse, et al. In prep. Effects of Marine Wind Energy Development on Wildlife in North America: A Synthesis. To be submitted to BioScience.
- Williams, K.A., E.M. Adams, D. Yates, D.C. Evers. 2012. Monitoring and spatial mapping of migratory bird and bat habitat use in the Thousand Islands region of New York State: Quarterly Report, January 2012. Report BRI 2012-02, Biodiversity Research Institute, Gorham, Maine.
- Adams, E.M., K.A. Williams, D. Yates, D.C. Evers. 2011. Monitoring and spatial mapping of migratory bird and bat habitat use in the Thousand Islands region of New York State: Quarterly Report, October 2011.
- Williams, K.A., P. C. Frederick and J. Nichols. 2011. Use of the superpopulation approach to estimate breeding population size: An example in asynchronously breeding birds. Ecology 92(4):821-828.
- Williams, K.A. 2011. The Maine BioMonitoring and Assessment Network (MBAN): Migration of Northern Saw-whet Owls in the Gulf of Maine, 2010. Report BRI 2011-03, BioDiversity Research Institute, Gorham, Maine.
- Zipkin. E. F., B. Gardner, A. T. Gilbert, A. F. O’Connell Jr., J. A. Royle, and E. D. Silverman. 2010. Distribution patterns of wintering sea ducks in relation to the North Atlantic Oscillation and local environmental characteristics. Oecologia Online. (Available at http://www.springerlink.com/content/mm151g5452348v41/)
- Egevang, C., Stenhouse, I.J., Phillips, R.A., Petersen, A., Fox, J.W. & Silk, J.D. 2010. Tracking of Arctic Terns (Sterna paradisaea) reveals longest animal migration. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 107: 2078-2081.
- Williams, K. and R. Schneider. 2010. The Maine Biomonitoring and Assessment Network: Passerine Migration Monitoring on Isle au Haut, 2009. BioDiversity Research Institute Report 2010-02.
- Folsom, S.B., D.C. Evers, C. Rimmer, and K. McFarland. 2009. Breeding bird survey report for the Sisk Mountain Wind Power Project (BRI Report # 2009-27). BioDiversity Research Institute, Gorham, Maine. 109 pages.
- Cecil, J., Sanchez, C., Stenhouse, I.J. & Hartzler, I. 2009. United States of America. Pp 369–382 in Important Bird Areas Americas - Priority sites for biodiversity conservation (C. Devenish, D.F. Díaz Fernández, R.P. Clay, I. Davidson & I. Yépez Zabala, eds.). BirdLife International, Quito, Ecuador (BirdLife Conservation Series No. 16).
- Kenow, K.P., Adams, D., Schoch, N., Evers, D.C., Hanson, W., Yates, D., Savoy, L., Major, A., Fox, T.J., Kratt, R., and Ozard, J. 2009. Migration patterns and wintering range of common loons breeding in the northeastern United States. Waterbirds 32:234-247.
- Goodale W., T. Divoll. 2009. Birds, Bats and Coastal Wind Farm Development in Maine: A Literature Review. Report BRI 2009-18. BioDiversity Research Institute, Gorham, Maine.