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How a wind farm in India's western Ghats has affected lizards – Quartz India

Renewable energy can be greener than fossil fuels, but it does not mean that it does not affect the environment.…

Renewable energy can be greener than fossil fuels, but it does not mean that it does not affect the environment.

In fact, a biodiversity hotspot in India is already beginning to change because of its power against alternative sources

In Western Ghats, a mountain range that extends over six Indian states along the west coast, wind farms have reduced abundance and hunting activity in birds of prey raptors, according to a new study by researchers from the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru.

As a result, they say that wind turbines create a “predation-free environment” that changes behavior and also the form of creatures falls into the food chain.

Among the most remarkable in this category are Sarada Superba or fan-throated lizard.

Man of this kind, found only in southern Asia, has a tab under the throat that becomes strong

Krishna Khan / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0

A fan-throated lizard.

The site the researchers studied were Chalkewadi plateau in the Satara district, near the Sahyadri Tiger Reserve and the Koyna Wildlife Sanctuary in the state of Maharashtra. This plateau has had one of the biggest and longest running wind farms in the region. In her study, published earlier this week in Nature Ecology & Evolution, the researchers compared the site to other protected forest areas in the neighborhood.

“The reason we chose this area is that the lizards we studied were actually dominant prayers in that landscape … And so we expected if there would be any change from having removed raptors, these lizards would experience a change . And that’s what we found. “Maria Thaker, co-author of the study and a deputy professor at IISc, told Quartz.

The density of the fate was higher in wind turbines, and these lizards showed a reduced tendency to fly as they approached, indicating that they became accustomed to an environment with fewer predators.

The reduction of rovattacks has resulted in the species flowering in the area, which in turn can lead to increased competition for food. Thaker and her team found that male lizards near wind turbines were less intensively colored than their counterparts elsewhere, possibly due to the limited availability of beetles, which are among the lizards favorite foods and rich in carotenoids that contribute to pigmentation. The color change, which the researchers argue for, can have consequences for sexual selection.

Although the long-term displacement of all this is not yet known, Thaker says that in theory there can be a cascade effect at the insect and plant levels down the food chain.

This is one of the less-talked results of India’s relocations to produce more renewable energy, which has accelerated under the Narendra Modi-led government. The government has set an ambitious target of 175 GW renewable energy capacity in 2022. This includes 60 GW from wind power, which has pushed up the development of wind power plants across India, including along the western Ghats, a UNESCO World Heritage List believed to host at least 325 threatened species of flora, fauna, birds and reptiles.

Although the survey focuses on a plateau, the environmental hazards of wind power plants have been documented around the world, especially as regards the reduction of birds near large turbines. And even in India, the proliferation of renewable energy plants has already proved to hit the population of the extinct large Indian bustard in its last remaining habitat in Gujarat, Rajasthan and Maharashtra.

But Thaker says these results do not make the Mediterranean have to surrender wind power.

“There is always wind turbine in the choice between wind turbines and fossil fuels,” she explained. “Let’s just be wise where we put them. Do not place them in areas that are unique or special or biological, as we will regret if these places change.”

Wind turbines should be placed on top of buildings or in areas that are already irreversible injured by human activity, she proposes, instead of within untouched forests of India.

Function image of Ashwin Kumar on Flickr, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0. Inline image of Krishna Khan on the Wikimedia Commons, licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

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