Impacts of energy development on biodiversity and ecosystem services
The American and global public is demanding clean, cheap and domestic energy while simultaneously increasing consumption. Wind energy is at the forefront of this energy transformation and is currently the fastest growing source of electrical power. Natural gas is also growing quickly as an alternative to other electric power sources. Both wind and gas have substantial social and environmental footprints, yet also contribute to human well-being. We are interested in quantifying and comparing the direct and indirect effects of wind energy development and natural gas development on biodiversity and ecosystem services across several ecoregions. One region of particular interest is the Piceance Basin in northwest Colorado, where mitigation for energy development-associated habitat loss for mule deer is actively underway. The mitigation is taking the form of tree reduction to enhance forage quality for this hunted species. Yet, the effects of this large-scale habitat manipulation on non-target bird and mammal communities is not well understood. Recent articles on our findings are in Biological Conservation, Rangeland Ecology and Management and the Journal of Wildlife Management. We have also published several reviews on the consequences of woodland reduction and single-species game management for biodiversity conservation.