Scientists use night vision to save bats | 11/1/2017 | Staff
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Bats soaring across the sky. Credit: USFWS/Ann Froschauer.

High-resolution radar and night vision cameras may help scientists protect bats from untimely deaths at wind farms, according to new research.

Researchers - Technologies - Details - Number - Bats

Researchers are using these technologies to provide more specific details about the number of bats killed by wind turbines in Iowa. These details will improve scientists' understanding of bat activity and potentially save their lives, said Jian Teng, a graduate researcher at the University of Iowa who presented the work this week at the 2019 American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting in San Francisco.

This work has broad impacts, according to Teng. "The more bats you kill, the more insects you have on farms; then, farmers will put more pesticides; and then, people will eat more pesticides," he said. By having a reliable system for counting bats, researchers will be able to effectively explore whether certain conditions are attracting bats to wind turbines.

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Wind farms—collections of wind turbines that convert wind energy to electricity—are promising sources of renewable energy. But the construction of massive wind turbines comes with environmental costs: bats soaring across the night often sky drop dead after colliding into rotating wind turbine blades.

In North America, wind turbines are estimated to kill tens to hundreds of thousands of bats each year, according to the USGS. An understanding about the impact of wind farms on bats is particularly important in Iowa.

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"There are a lot of species of bats in the Great Lakes region and also in Iowa," Teng said. "When bats do their fall migration, they fly from north to south and pass Iowa. Iowa is full of wind farms," he said. The region is also home to the endangered Indiana bat.

In the newly presented work, the researchers used a kind of high-resolution Doppler radar—similar to what...
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