Mammalian mesocarnivore visitation at tortoise burrows in a wind farm

Mickey Agha, Amanda L. Smith, Jeffrey E. Lovich, David Delaney, Joshua R. Ennen, Jessica Briggs, Leo J. Fleckenstein, Laura A. Tennant, Shellie R. Puffer, Andrew Walde, Terence R. Arundel, Steven J. Price, Brian D. Todd

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


There is little information on predator–prey interactions in wind energy landscapes in North America, especially among terrestrial vertebrates. Here, we evaluated how proximity to roads and wind turbines affect mesocarnivore visitation with desert tortoises (Gopherus agassizii) and their burrows in a wind energy landscape. In 2013, we placed motion-sensor cameras facing the entrances of 46 active desert tortoise burrows in a 5.2-km2 wind energy facility near Palm Springs, California, USA. Cameras recorded images of 35 species of reptiles, mammals, and birds. Counts for 4 species of mesocarnivores at desert tortoise burrows increased closer to dirt roads, and decreased closer to wind turbines. Our results suggest that anthropogenic infrastructure associated with wind energy facilities could influence the general behavior of mammalian predators and their prey. Further investigation of proximate mechanisms that underlie road and wind turbine effects (i.e., ground vibrations, sound emission, and traffic volume) and on wind energy facility spatial designs (i.e., road and wind turbine configuration) could prove useful for better understanding wildlife responses to wind energy development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1117-1124
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Wildlife Management
Issue number6
StatePublished - Aug 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Any use of trade, product, or firm names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Government. Earlier versions of the manuscript benefitted from comments offered by D. Kelt, M. O. Murphy, J. M. Peaden, and S. C. Mankiller. Special thanks are extended to A. Muth and the Boyd Deep Canyon Desert Research Center of the University of California, Riverside for providing accommodations during our research. Research support for this project was provided by the California Desert Managers and the U.S. Geological Survey Ecosystems Program.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Wildlife Society, 2017


  • Gopherus agassizii
  • burrow symbionts
  • meso-predator
  • predator–prey interactions
  • renewable energy
  • roads
  • trail camera

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


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