Long-term impact on the breeding birds of a semi-offshore island-based wind farm in Åland, Northern Baltic Sea

Authors

  • Antti Tanskanen Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Karolinska Institutet, 171 76 Stockholm, Sweden https://orcid.org/0000-0002-3795-3126
  • Rauno Yrjölä Environmental Research Yrjölä Ltd, Nuijamiestentie 5C 00400 Helsinki, Finland https://orcid.org/0000-0003-2150-1798
  • Johanna Oja
  • Risto Aalto
  • Sakari Tanskanen

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.34080/os.v32.22331

Keywords:

wind energy, Baltic Sea, archipelago, wind farm, population trends, breeding, Laridae, Anatidae

Abstract

Breeding bird populations were monitored at a wind farm in the Båtskär area of the southern Åland archipelago in 2006–2017. The area is situated in the outer archipelago and comprises four islands with six wind turbines in total. The wind turbines began operating in autumn 2007. An environmental impact assessment for the area was conducted in 2002. A control area called Stenarna, located 22 km NW of Båtskär, was used for comparison. The Båtskär area annually recorded 850–1,050 pairs of breeding birds. Four species showed significantly decreasing trends in Båtskär, namely the Common Eider Somateria mollissima, Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus, Herring Gull L. argentatus , and Black Guillemot Cepphus grylle. In Stenarna, only the Common Eider significantly decreased over the same period. The Arctic Tern Sterna paradisaea  increased in both areas, while the Velvet Scoter Melanitta fusca, Red-breasted Merganser Mergus serrator, Common Gull Larus canus, Rock Pipit Anthus petrosus, and White Wagtail Motacilla alba increased in Stenarna, the control area. The Herring Gull population decline is unlikely to be related to the wind farm. However, the proximity of a wind turbine to a breeding colony of the Lesser Black-backed Gull has most likely contributed to its decline. The reason for the Black Guillemot decline in Båtskär is unknown. The decline of Common Eider in both areas may be connected to increasing predation from White-tailed Eagles Haliaeetus albicilla. Some species, such as the House Martin Delichon urbicum and auks, have benefitted from the wind farm construction. They can utilize new microhabitats created by the construction, while other species, such as the Common Eider, gain protection against predation because of human activities.

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Published

2022-11-21

How to Cite

Tanskanen, A., Yrjölä, R., Oja, J., Aalto, R., & Tanskanen, S. (2022). Long-term impact on the breeding birds of a semi-offshore island-based wind farm in Åland, Northern Baltic Sea. Ornis Svecica, 32, 38–56. https://doi.org/10.34080/os.v32.22331

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Research Papers