Wind farms put bats under pressure

Wind turbines may be causing fatalities in bats because of a sharp drop in air pressure caused by the spinning blades, said scientists at the University of Calgary in Canada.

Birds deaths are sometimes thought to result from direct contact with wind turbines’ spinning blades. But scientists were previously puzzled as to why bats would also be found dead, since their echolocation means they should be able to easily detect moving objects.

The bats examined by the scientists had no external injuries, said the study in the journal Current Biology. But 90% of fatalities involved internal damage consistent with barotrauma: tissue damage to air-containing structures caused by rapid or excessive pressure change.

"An atmospheric pressure drop at wind turbine blades is an undetectable — and potentially unforseeable — hazard for bats, thus partially explaining the large number of bat fatalities at these specific structures," lead scientist Erin Baerwald was quoted as saying.

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