Rapid increases in human populations and energy demands have pushed for development of new energy technologies. However, many so called “green technologies” are poorly researched for their safety to wildlife.
We have research at Chaplin and Reed Lake, Saskatchewan investigating the effects of proposed and existing wind farms on migratory shorebirds. Chaplin and Reed Lakes are saline inland lakes which are recognized as a WHSRN Site of Hemispheric Importance. The lakes host tens of thousands of shorebirds on migration. Increasingly, the shorelines are being encroached for wind energy developments that take advantage of the windswept Prairie landscape. Our research uses the Motus Automated Radiotelemetry network of towers to study the migratory staging and flight patterns of Sanderling as they arrive and depart from this important stopover site during spring to understand risks to migratory species from wind energy.
RUN OF RIVER HYDROELECTRIC DAMS
Other research on Run of River hydroelectric dams is conducted in British Columbia We evaluate the effects of changes in stream flow on American dippers, small riverbirds that use fast flowing streams year round.The dams have headponds with variable water holding times and penstocks that divert water flow through turbines sometimes for several kilometers. Since dippers are well known indicators of stream health, we are studying the effects of dams on river food webs, mercury accumulation and dipper occupancy in southern B.C.
ARTIFICIAL LIGHT AT NIGHT: IMACTS ON NOCTURANL MIGRATORY SONGBIRDS
Consequences of Artificial Light at Night for Nocturnal Migratory Songbirds
Ecosystems are at notable risk of exposure to many different forms of physical and chemical pollutants, however, only recently was light pollution even considered a significant threat to wildlife. Most animals rely on light to function properly. Migratory songbirds are particularly vulnerable to artificial light as many undergo migration in the dark. Artificial light at night affects the ability of nocturnal migrants to start and support proper migraflight. It can also entice them to stopover in much poorer quality habitat, and affect their behaviour once landed. The consequences of these and many more impacts of light pollution are largely unknown.
WHAT IS ARTIFICIAL LIGHT AT NIGHT?
As urbanization of the human population has escalated, so too has artificial light at night (ALAN) risen. There are many diverse sources of ALAN, streetlights, building lights, vehicles, and more, though it can be especially concentrated in areas like parking lots, stadiums, airports, and industrial centers. Light is a fundamental environmental cue for nearly all organisms; therefore, ALAN can threaten nearly all organisms, many of which can respond in separate ways. The large sphere of influence and the diversity of responses makes ALAN an incredible challenge for future environmental conservation.
HOW ARE NOCTURNAL MIGRATORY SONGBIRDS AFFECTED?
Nocturnal migrants can be considerably impacted by ALAN. Urban light pollution can draw migrants off their path, alter their stopover choice, and even delay their departure from the wintering grounds. It is also shown that ALAN can interfere with migratory restless behaviour while in captivity. Currently, we have a project investigating the physiological mechanism behind this altered migratory restlessness, and to figure out the fitness consequences