Improving the detection and estimation of birds’ collision risk with energy infrastructure using new and emerging tracking technologies

Gauld, Jethro (2022) Improving the detection and estimation of birds’ collision risk with energy infrastructure using new and emerging tracking technologies. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

[thumbnail of JG 230601 Final PhD thesis.pdf]
Download (17MB) | Preview


The dual crises of biodiversity loss and climate change require swift action to protect ecosystems and transition away from fossil fuels. Halting climate change will require global wind energy generation capacity to more than quadruple compared to 2021. Expanding renewable energy will also require significant investment in transmission power lines. European bird populations have declined by approximately 600 million individuals since 1980, it is vital that the clean energy expansion does not further exacerbate this. Migratory soaring birds are among the most susceptible to collision mortality associated with renewable energy infrastructure. Conservation of these species in the context of the expansion of renewable energy requires assessment of collision risks across the whole flyway. This thesis focuses on how data from new and emerging satellite tracking technologies can help better understand where and when birds are most at risk of collision.

Analysing tracking data sets representing over 1,400 individual birds, identified collision risk hotspots within Europe and North Africa. Many of the hotspots identified were within migratory bottleneck regions where mitigation to reduce collision risks could have conservation benefits across the flyway. For both soaring and flapping species environmental variables such as thermal uplift were found to accurately predict how likely birds were to fly at heights where they risk collision with energy infrastructure. This research showed tracking data can inform estimates of sensitivity to collision risks for areas which are not, at present, well represented in the tracking data.

Through testing a new low cost, light weight GPS-LoRa tracking technology my research helped fill data gaps and improve our understanding of the movement behaviour of birds in relation to energy infrastructure. The devices were found to be able to collect and transmit accurate, high frequency GNSS/GPS location information over long distances (up to 53km). Lab tests revealed their potential to help validate collision risk maps by remotely detecting when and where bird collisions occur. This thesis generated important information to support development of renewables while minimizing impacts on biodiversity.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Science > School of Environmental Sciences
Depositing User: Nicola Veasy
Date Deposited: 22 Jun 2023 14:30
Last Modified: 22 Jun 2023 14:30


Downloads per month over past year

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item