Min Lee

Genetic Approaches to Understanding the Impact of Wind Energy on Migratory Bats

As wind energy becomes more widespread, it is important to understand how much of an impact the industry is having on the migratory bat population. While silver-haired bats, hoary bats, and eastern red bats are all being affected, we will specifically study the effect of wind turbines on eastern red bat populations. We will be using a genetic approach to understand the demographic trends of eastern red bat populations in response to conservation pressures from wind farms. This genetic approach will allow us to assess the genetic health of the population, its capacity to respond to future environmental change, and its population growth or decline. The data we obtained from this project will provide the information necessary to understand the potential biological and ecological impacts of increased wind power development on eastern red bat populations.

While estimating the eastern red bat population size may be possible using traditional mark-recapture methodology or survey techniques, we will use a molecular approach. Traditional demographic approaches have limited utility with bats, because they are nocturnal, exhibit cryptic behavior, and are difficult to follow over time during extensive seasonal movements between summer breeding areas and overwintering sites.

Faculty Mentor: Amy Russell, Biology

Page last modified August 10, 2010