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NOT GONE WITH THE WIND: Addressing Effects of Offshore Wind Development on Bat Species in the Northeastern United States

Development of coastal and offshore wind energy resources has the potential to add considerable renewable electricity capacity to the United States electrical grid, but could have detrimental impacts on wildlife. Land-based wind energy facilities are estimated to kill hundreds of thousands of bats every year in the United States, and could threaten population viability of some species. Little is known about the potential impacts of offshore wind development on bat populations along the North Atlantic coast, but a number of species are known to frequent marine islands or fly over the ocean during migration. This dissertation helps to characterize risks of offshore wind development to bats through increasing our knowledge of bat habitat use and behavior in the coastal and offshore environments of the northeastern United States. Chapter I provides a general introduction to the topics of offshore wind energy development and bat mortality at wind energy facilities. Chapter II details the first scientific survey of bat use of the offshore island of Nantucket, Massachusetts, with a focus on the federally threatened Northern Long-eared Bat. Chapter III describes bat flight behavior on and around the offshore island of Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. Chapter IV explores the fall migratory behavior of eastern red and hoary bats radio-tagged at sites along the New England coast and tracked using an extensive network of automated telemetry stations. In Chapter V, I estimate the economic costs of curtailment as a bat fatality minimization option for a set of theoretical offshore wind energy facilities located at sites along the Eastern Seaboard.
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