Bird-Community Shifts in Relation to Wind Farms: A Case Study Comparing a Wind Farm, Croplands, and Secondary Forests in Southern Mexico

Rafael Villegas-Patraca, Ian MacGregor-Fors, Teresa Ortiz-Martínez, Clara E. Pérez-Sánchez, Leonel Herrera-Alsina, Carlos Muñoz-Robles

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Aside from the positive benefits of wind energy, wind farms often bring environmental problems such as noise production and wildlife collision. However, little is known about the effects of wind farms on the ecology of tropical landbirds. In this study, we evaluated changes in bird-community diversity, composition, and structure directly beneath wind turbines, 200 m away from turbines, and in nearby croplands and secondary forests. In general, our results show (1) a gradient of species richness, with values highest in croplands and secondary forests, intermediate values 200 m from turbines, and lowest values beneath turbines, (2) fairly similar bird abundance for all treatments, with values highest in secondary forests in autumn and lowest 200 m from turbines in autumn, (3) bird communities highly similar at each season, but communities at 0 and 200 m from turbines differed strongly in autumn and communities at the rest of the studied sites differed strongly during both spring and autumn, (4) evenness of the bird community greater in secondary forests and croplands and lower at both distances from wind turbines, and (5) the area covered by croplands outside the wind farm played an important role, often related to increases in species richness. Our results also suggest that wind farms have a greater effect on wintering migrants than on residents; however, further studies are required for such a comparison to be tested robustly.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)711-719
Number of pages9
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2012

Bibliographical note

We are grateful to the anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments. We also thank M. Mora for providing GIS data, O. Muñoz, T. Hernández, A. Bombela, A. González, A. Aguilar, E. Almanza, E. Senties, S. Cabrera, and L. Contreras for assistance in the field, and the many farmers who allowed us to work in their lands. We are grateful to the Federal Electricity Commission (Comisión Federal de Electricidad) for authorizing the publication of this paper, which information is based on the “Plan de vigilancia de la fauna (aves y murciélagos) en la central eólica La Venta II, municipio Juchitlán Oax. (Periodo 2008-2011)” and completed under four agreements (9400039484, 9400047488, 9400053437, 9400060686) between the Instituto de Ecología, A.C., and the Federal Electricity Commission


  • biodiversity
  • birds
  • eolian facilities
  • Isthmus of Tehuantepec
  • migrant
  • Neotropic
  • Wildlife


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