Bats: Gone With the Wind
Batman has the Joker; real bats have wind turbines. The energy-generating machines kill bats the world over, yet the exact cause has remained as mysterious as the plot of a movie thriller. Now, a new study appears to have solved the riddle.
Wind turbines range in height from 20 to 80 meters and are typically located on hilly plains. For decades, researchers have noticed that mangled birds litter the ground surrounding the machines, and recently they've found that dead bats actually outnumber the birds, by as many as four times in some places. This was a surprise, as bats' sonar should allow them to detect moving objects even better than they do stationary ones.
There was another conundrum as well. "While we were picking up carcasses, I noticed that a large number didn't seem to have any external injuries," says Erin Baerwald, an ecology graduate student at the University of Calgary in Canada. For her recently completed master's thesis, she surveyed dead bats on a wind farm near the campus in Alberta, Canada.
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