Bats and wind energy in woodland I

Project title: Research on reducing the effects of wind turbines on bats, particularly in woodland


  • The function of particular woods in relation to bats
  • Identifying potential conflict areas
  • Standards for the before-study of wind energy locations and monitoring


Freiburger Institut für angewandte Tierökologie (FRINAT) GmbH
Dunantstr. 9, 79110 Freiburg im Breisgau
Dr. Robert Brinkmann
Tel.: +49 761 2089 9960



FKZ 3512 84 0200
Departmental Research Plan 2012
Term: 01.08.2012 – 30.04.2016

The project's objective is to collate and evaluate existing data to identify and limit the effects of WT on bats in woodland and to remedy any relevant gaps in knowledge by examining case studies. Reference values on population sizes will also be determined as a guide for assessing the effects of operations at different scales. On the basis of these results, methodological standards for recording and monitoring bat populations will be developed for existing wind power projects. The project has already been completed.

The aims of the project are

  • Identifying the function of specific woodlands as nurseries, mating and overwintering areas,
  • Researching time and space patterns of bat activity with a particular focus on the activity at height in order to determine conflict areas on a regional scale (e.g. for the common pipistrelle),
  • Identifying the key parameters for evaluating the disturbance effect of WT and for testing cumulative effects at the level of local populations and biogeographical regions,
  • Deriving guidelines to identify conflict areas based on the findings,
  • Formulating methodological standards for before-studies of designated sites and monitoring WT in woodland sites from a nature conservation angle.


First, from a study of the literature, the function of different types of woodland as nurseries, breeding and overwintering areas as well as hunting habitat was identified for all bat species occurring in Germany. Based on this, unanswered questions were identified and a total of six case studies developed.

The case studies include analysis of large data sets in order to identify important habitat factors and bat activity patterns. A range of data was analysed:

  • Nursery sites for developing distribution models,
  • Data from acoustic activity measurements close to the ground to determine factors affecting bat activity (landscape parameters and weather parameters)
  • Data from acoustic activity measurements at different heights above the woodland to determine factors affecting activity at height.

In three case studies data was collected on activity at different heights for various species:

  • At a colony of the common pipistrelle
  • In nursery areas and a colony of the western barbastelle
  • At a mating and overwintering area of the lesser noctule


The results of the literature review and case studies were used to provide recommendations for recording methods and measures at woodland sites. The results were published in the BfN "Naturschutz und Biologische Vielfalt"-series.

In addition to the above-mentioned publication, species profiles were compiled of all native bat species. They summarise woodland use by the different species of bats in relation to threats from the construction of WTs in woodland and provide guidelines for recording and for developing measures for wind power projects. More detailed information on the above-mentioned recording methods and measures are given in the relevant chapters of the book.

The species profiles have been published on the website of the Freiburger Institut für angewandte Tierökologie (FrInaT).

A further publication resulting from data collected during the project analyses the use of roosts by the western barbastelle:

Kortmann, M., Hurst, J., Brinkmann, R., Heurich, M., Silveyra González, R., Müller, J. & Thorn, S. (2018): Beauty and the beast: how a bat utilizes forests shaped by outbreaks of an insect pest. – Animal Conservation 21: 21-30.

Work packages

Work packages

  1. Project management
  2. Functional space analysis by bats in woodland (literature review)
  3. Developing a research design for the case studies based on questions identified in the literature review
  4. Case studies/field surveys
  5. Identifying key parameters
  6. Formulating nature conservation standards (published in Natur und Landschaft, Hurst et al. 2015

Project partners

Project partners

Project management

Freiburger Institut für angewandte Tierökologie (FRINAT) GmbH
Dunantstr. 9, 79110 Freiburg im Breisgau
Dr. Robert Brinkmann
Tel.: +49 761 2089 9960

Funding authority

Federal Agency for Nature Conservation
II 1.1 Zoological species protection
Konstantinstr. 110, 53179 Bonn
Ruth Petermann

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