The first scientific publication of the MKO Research initiative is now available in the journal Science of the Total Environment.
The article, titled “Limited accessibility and bias in wildlife-wind energy knowledge: a bilingual systematic review of a globally distributed bird group” focuses on the interactions between harriers (bird species of the Circus genus) and wind farms, and has implications for the wider field of wildlife and wind energy science.
By performing a systematic search in two languages across four search engines, 235 literature sources on harrier-wind farm interactions were collated. These covered 12 of the 16 harrier species, 31 countries and two marine areas. Results indicated that although harriers are generally less susceptible to collisions with wind turbines than other raptor species, this can still be an issue in some cases, depending on region, wind turbine characteristics, topography, etc. However, the largest issues for these species comes form habitat effects, but this review highlights how this aspect remains largely understudied. As part of the publication, the findings of all sources reviewed are collated in an extensive supplementary section, which may prove a valuable resource to practitioners searching for information on harriers and wind energy.
From a broader wildlife-wind energy perspective, this review also highlights the existence of taxonomic and geographic bias in the field, with more literature sources coming from Europe and North America, and the species found there. Furthermore, searches in a second language (Spanish) yielded relatively few results, indicating the existence of language bias. Availability of literature sources (e.g. EIA reports) and accessibility to scientific publications (many of which are behind paywalls) remains a problem for the field, and risks widening the gap between research findings and implementation of best practice. ‘If the different stakeholders – from the research, industry, consultancy, conservation, and government sectors – adopt open practices, knowledge sharing can help reduce the uncertainty surrounding the impacts of wind farms on wildlife.’ – Dr. Darío Fernández-Bellon, Senior Researcher at MKO Research and author of the paper. A more open and collaborative approach would mean that EIA reports and data could contribute beyond single projects and to wider research, open access research would be more readily available to practitioners, and data and knowledge sharing can facilitate larger scale studies which can advance the field substantially.
The full paper is available in open access here: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.140238