Activity Pattern and Correlation between Bat and Insect Abundance at Wind Turbines in South Sweden

Animals (Basel). 2021 Nov 15;11(11):3269. doi: 10.3390/ani11113269.


We present data on species composition and activity of bats during two years at three different wind- turbines, located in south Sweden, both at the base and nacelle height. To test the hypothesis that bats are attracted to wind turbines because of feeding opportunities, insects were sampled at nacelle height at one wind turbine using a suction trap, simultaneously as bat activity were measured. At this wind turbine, we also compared two different technical systems for ultrasound recordings and collect meteorological data. The variation in bat activity was high between nights and between wind turbines. In addition to the expected open-air foraging species (Pipistrellus, Nyctalus, Vespertilio and Eptesicus), some individuals of unexpected species (Myotis, Barbastella, and Plecotus) were found at nacelle height. There was a weak but significant positive relation between bat activity and insect abundance, so the hypothesis could not be rejected, suggesting there might be other factors than insect abundance explaining the frequency of bat visits at the nacelle. We found a strong correlation between bat passes and weather conditions. A reasonable way to mitigate collisions is with stop-regulation. However, this study highlights some of the problems with defining the limits for stop-regulation based on weather conditions.

Keywords: Chiroptera; bat activity; insect abundance; stop-regulation; wind-power.