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New Mexico State University (2017)

Impacts of solar energy development on breeding birds and mourning dove nest survival in the Nutt Grasslands, New Mexico

Meliopoulos, DeeAnne T.,

Titre : Impacts of solar energy development on breeding birds and mourning dove nest survival in the Nutt Grasslands, New Mexico

Auteur : Meliopoulos, DeeAnne T.,

Université de soutenance : New Mexico State University

Grade : Master of Science (MS) Wildlife Sciences 2017

Notes
Solar energy is growing at unprecedented rates, with the most development projected for areas with high concentrations of threatened and endangered species. Other forms of energy development have been linked to lower abundance and daily nest survival (DNS) for many avian species, but no studies have examined the particular effect of solar development on these factors. I examined the influence of a solar facility on abundance of two avian guilds (grassland birds and Columbids) and individual species (horned lark [Eremophila alpestris], eastern meadowlark [Sturnella magna], mourning dove [Zenaida macroura], and Eurasian collared-dove [Streptopelia decaocto]), and evaluated mourning dove DNS. I compared abundance and DNS within the facility and at distances up to 1600 m from the facility edge in the Nutt grasslands of south-central New Mexico. I conducted point counts and nest searches in 2014 and 2015 between April 15 and August 15. I assessed relationships between guild and individual species abundance and distance to solar facility, distance to other edge types, vegetation parameters, and insect abundance using negative binomial regression. Year most strongly influenced grassland species, with grassland guild abundance and horned lark and meadowlark abundance significantly increasing in 2015 (wet year) compared to 2014 (drought year). These species were most numerous within the facility in 2014, but more abundant outside the facility in 2015, resulting in a significant interaction between year and distance to facility. The Columbid guild and mourning doves were unaffected by distance to facility, instead responding to vegetation. I assessed mourning dove DNS relative to distance to facility and other edge types, vegetation parameters, and nest initiation date (NID), using Program MARK and Akaike’s Information Criterion. Year and NID most strongly impacted DNS, positively affecting DNS. Overall DNS was low, with a 1.66% chance of a nest surviving the entire nesting period. Only 3% of nests were in the facility, indicating avoidance of the facility as nesting habitat, despite this species’ classification as a habitat generalist. My results demonstrate the variability in species responses to a solar facility, highlighting a need for further research to explore the effects on more sensitive species.

Présentation (NMSU Library)

Page publiée le 13 octobre 2018, mise à jour le 25 décembre 2019