Dim ultraviolet light as a means of deterring activity by the Hawaiian hoary bat (Lasiurus cinereus semotus)

Year: 

2015

Suggested Citation: 

Gorresen, P.M., P.M. Cryan, D. Dalton, J. Johnson, C. Todd, S. Wolf, and F.J. Bonaccorso. 2015. Dim ultraviolet light as a means of deterring activity by the Hawaiian hoary bat (Lasiurus cinereus semotus). Endangered Species Research 28:249-257.

Widespread bat fatalities at industrial wind turbines are a conservation issue with the potential to inhibit efficient use of an abundant source of energy. Bat fatalities can be reduced by altering turbine operations, but such curtailment decreases turbine efficiency. If additional ways of reducing bat fatalities at wind turbines were available such tradeoffs might not be needed. Based on the facts that bats perceive distant objects primarily through vision and can see in very dim lighting conditions, and the possibility that bats might interact with turbines after approaching them as they would trees, we propose a novel method of reducing bat activity at wind turbines: illumination of the structure with dim light. As a first step toward assessing this approach, we illuminated trees with dim flickering ultraviolet (UV) light in areas frequented by Hawaiian hoary bats Lasiurus cinereus semotus, an endangered subspecies affected by wind turbines. We used a repeated-measures design to quantify bat activity near trees with acoustic detectors and thermal video cameras in the presence and absence of UV illumination, while concurrently monitoring insect numbers. Results indicate that dim UV reduces bat activity despite an increase in insect numbers. Experimental treatment did not completely inhibit bat activity near trees, nor did all measures of bat activity show statistically significant differences due to high variance in bat activity among sites. However, the observed decreases in bat activity with dim UV illumination justify further testing of this method as a means to reduce bat fatalities at wind turbines.

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