We are living in a period of unprecedented global change where even the most remote areas of the planet are influenced by the activities of man. Modern landscapes have been highly modified to accommodate a growing human population that is forecast to peak at 9.1 billion by 2050. Over this past century, human reliance on goods and services from ecosystems has greatly increased and sustainability of our modern and intensively managed ecosystems has been a topic of serious national and international concern. Not surprisingly, sustainability of ecosystems has become an explicitly stated goal of many agencies and, in some cases, has been legislatively mandated to ensure the provisioning of resources for future generations. Current efforts to reduce the human population’s impact on ecosystems and a simultaneous interest on reaching energy independence within the United States have led to an increased focus on alternative sources of energy, including wind and bio-fuels. The abundant wind resources and rich agricultural heritage of the northern Great Plains will ensure that this region is a major player in the production of alternative energies. Habitat changes associated with the significant infrastructure needed to capture wind energy or land-use changes associated with the production of vegetative biomass needed for bio-fuels will undoubtedly have an effect on ecosystems, their ability to support wildlife populations and the provisioning of other goods and services valued by society. In an effort to better understand the effects of these changes, we are studying alternative energy production throughout much of the northern Great Plains.
- Assessing the impacts of wind-energy development on sharp-tailed grouse and greater prairie-chickens in North and South Dakota
- Effects of wind generators on grassland breeding birds
- Effects of wind-energy facilities on breeding grassland bird distributions
- Placing biofuel production into the context of prairie ecosystem function and sustainability
- Predicting bird and bat fatality risk at wind farms and proposed wind farm sites using acoustic-ultrasonic recorders