The Importance of Addressing Disagreements Between Nominal and Effective Treatments During Bat Mortality Minimization Validation Studies

Jeff Clerc, Cris Hein, Manuela Huso

Research output: NRELPresentation


As the wind energy industry grows, so too does our need for effective and low-cost bat mortality minimization solutions. Despite knowledge gaps in our understanding of what drives bats to collide with spinning turbines, minimization solutions have shown success during validation studies. Curtailment has been consistently effective, reducing bat mortality from 33%-79%, depending on the curtailment scenario and species present. Several validation studies have demonstrated deterrent solutions, specifically ultrasonic deterrents, to be effective, but overall, more variable compared to curtailment solutions. Further, a study combining curtailment with ultrasonic deterrents produced encouraging results, finding that adding ultrasonic deterrents to turbines that were designated to curtail, significantly reduced mortality rates compared to curtailment only turbines. Despite positive results, the strength of inference achieved with validation studies is limited by methodological constraints associated with appropriately assigning fatalities to treatments. Because of the temporal separation between when a bat collides with a turbine and when it is discovered during a ground-based carcass survey, we must assign carcasses to a treatment that ran during the prior night(s). This process may introduce errors at multiple stages. First, for studies that rotate treatments among turbines, mortality surveyors must be confident that carcasses are 'fresh' such that mortalities are correctly assigned to the treatment from the previous night(s). Second, we must reconcile any misalignments between how we assign treatments and how we implement treatments (e.g., turbines assigned with a deterrent treatment may be implemented as another treatment when deterrent devices are not operating as designed). Finally, for curtailment solutions, it is critical to recognize that measured effects are a function of not just the treatment as implemented but the proportion of the night the treatment is realized (e.g., if wind speeds are greater than the curtailment treatment cut-in speed for the entire night, we cannot expect there to me any differences in mortality reduction relative to control turbines). Using a dataset collected between June and October 2017, that rotated 3 treatments (Deterrent Only, 5 m/s Curtail only, and 5 m/s Curtail & Deterrent) and 1 control condition across 16 turbines each night, we explored the importance and implications of accounting for potential errors in assigning fatalities to treatments. We present preliminary results comparing the mortality associated with error-corrected treatments and control conditions highlighting how the measured effect of a treatment (mortality) greatly depends on site specific implementation.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages17
StatePublished - 2023

Publication series

NamePresented at the 7th Conference on Wind Energy and Wildlife Impacts, 18-22 September 2023, Sibenik, Croatia

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/PR-5000-87390


  • bats
  • minimization solutions
  • mortality
  • wildlife
  • wind energy


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