Risk of golden eagle collisions with wind turbines is influenced by the altitude at which the birds fly. Topographic features drive eagle flight because lift is dependent on the slope, aspect, and cover type over which they fly. The USGS is leading an evaluation of the relationship between topography and eagle flight altitude to infer risk to eagles from turbine development in the Mojave Desert, California.
Condor populations recovering in California face numerous threats, including the development of wind-energy facilities within their range. To understand how condor flight behavior may expose them to risk from wind energy, USGS, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and Bureau of Land Management researchers are initiating a new study to track condor flight using high-frequency Global Positioning System-Global System for Mobile Communication (GPS-GSM) telemetry systems.
The Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP) is being developed for deserts in southern California to protect species like the golden eagle while simultaneously allowing for growing renewable energy development. To understand how golden eagles may be impacted by renewable energy projects, researchers used global positioning system-global system for mobile communications (GPS-GSM) telemetry to measure year-round golden eagle movements.
Anthropogenic and natural disturbance have caused habitat loss and fragmentation, leading to population declines of greater sage-grouse. USGS ecologist Steve Knick is leading a new study using GPS and cell phone technology to determine how sage-grouse move through a landscape. Data collected from conventional radio-tracking systems are not precise enough to understand how landscape features influence actual movements.