After testing, the lizards near the turbines were found to have lower levels of a stress hormone - something that must have emerged in the two decades since wind farms were built in the Western Ghats. But a new study finds that the impacts of turbines are more far-reaching than previously thought, acting nearly like a new apex predator in an ecosystem. And since lizards have less fear of being preyed by birds, they are becoming less stressful.
In particular, the team observed an explosion in the raptors' favorite meal - fan-throated lizards - in areas dominated by the turbines.
Wind turbines are vital for sustainable power, providing cheap electricity without producing any sort of pollution.
Indian researchers found that mountain areas with turbines had four times fewer buzzards and hawks as areas without.
In new research, an worldwide team of scientists studied the effects of wind turbine use in the Western Ghats, a UNESCO-listed range of mountains and forest spanning India's west coast region and a global "hotspot" of biodiversity. To such conclusions researchers in India who studied the populations of birds and lizards in the three districts of the Western Ghats, where the installed wind generators. They also took blood samples from 144 lizards that lived near wind turbines.
In and around the wind farm, lizard populations exploded, completely unchecked by predation.
By now, it's common knowledge that wind turbines reduce the number of local birds and bats, disrupting their migratory paths.
The ecological findings from our paper was exciting because it showed that wind farms are like top predators, and their impact can result not only in the decrease of bird activity (which was known previous), but it also indirectly increases the density of lizards, and changes the morphology, behaviour and physiology of those lizards.
Thaker told The Telegraph, 'Every time a top predator is removed or added, unexpected effects trickle through the ecosystem.
Wind farms arrived in Chalkewadi nearly 20 years ago and Professor Maria Thaker (Bengaluru's Indian Institute of Science) and her team studied their impact on the local ecosystem between 2012 and 2014, said a report in The Hindu. You can further help us by making a donation.