THE PROJECT “CAPERCAILLIE AND WIND ENERGY”
At the present time, little is known about how capercaillie respond to the presence of wind turbines in their habitat. In July 2014, the project “Auerhuhn und Windenergie” was started under the leadership of the Forest Research Institute Baden-Württemberg (FVA) in cooperation with the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna (BOKU). The goal of the five-year research project is to gain more insight into the possible impact of wind turbines on capercaillie populations.
Find results and more detailed information on www.auerhuhn-windenergie.de
METHODOLOGY OF THE PROJECT
According to the so-called Before-After-Control-Impact (BACI) principle, the investigations are carried out in three phases: before, during and after the construction of wind turbines. At the same time, the same investigations are carried out in reference areas without wind turbines present.
INVESTIGATIONS AT THE LOCATION HOCHPÜRSCHTLING
Since we, Windheimat GmbH, are committed to produce energy in harmony with the environment, we have released the location of the wind farm Hochpürschtling for investigations during this period.
As early as summer 2012, before the construction of the wind turbines, various sampling points were recorded. The capercaillie occurrence was mapped by searching for indirect evidence (mainly feces and feathers). In the following years (2013 to 2017) the same recording of the prevalence of capercaillie was repeated every summer. In 2013, 2016 and 2017, the study area was enlarged due to the possible expansion of the wind farm.
At Hochpürschtling, there are three grouse species: capercaillie, black grouse and hazel grouse. The feathers of the individual species can be well distinguished, however, the classification of the feces is in some cases difficult or impossible without genetic or food analysis.
Therefore, there is also evidence that can be from both the capercaillie and the black grouse. This data is recorded and considered separately in the analysis.
At the Hochpürschtling, between 3.9% and 18.9% of the samples found can be assigned to capercaillie (Table 1). Interestingly, over the years, there is evidence of an increase in the occurrence of capercaillie. To what extent this is related to a population increase in the studied area is still under investigation.