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Effects on wildlife of large-scale solar energy developments especially in the desert Southwest

US Geological Survey Septembre 2011

Scientific Literature Review Finds Opportunities for More Research on Solar Energy Development and Impacts to Wildlife

US Geological Survey FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. 12/9/2011

More peer-reviewed scientific studies of the effects on wildlife of large-scale solar energy developments and operations are needed to adequately assess their impact, especially in the desert Southwest, according to a scientific literature review conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey and published in the journal BioScience.

In their literature review, the authors of the paper, USGS scientist Jeffrey Lovich and Maryville College scientist Joshua Ennen, found that out of all the scientific papers they examined, going back well before the 1980s, only one peer-reviewed study addressed the direct impacts of large-scale solar energy development and operations on any kind of wildlife.

Peer-reviewed studies are those that have been reviewed by experts in the same field of study and are then published in scientific journals.

One reason why there are few peer-reviewed studies is that the interest in developing alternative energy has grown exponentially in recent years and science has to “catch up.” Opportunities for hypothesis-driven research on solar energy facilities of this scale, particularly research looking at baseline conditions before development, impacts of operation, or conditions after development, have been limited.

According to Lovich and Ennen, these studies are particularly important in sensitive habitats such as the desert Southwest with its wildlife diversity and fragile arid desert lands. "For example," said Lovich, "the desert tortoise is an ecological engineer whose burrows provide much-needed shelter for many other desert species. Yet large areas of habitat occupied by Agassiz’s desert tortoise and some other at-risk species have potential for large-scale solar-energy developments."

Pour en savoir plus (US Geological Survey)

Page publiée le 12 avril 2012