Editor's choice September/October 2023Submitted by editor on 6 September 2023.
The editor’s choice is the article by LeBeau et al.: “A meta-analysis investigating the effects of energy infrastructure proximity on grouse demography and space use”.
Responsible energy development requires careful consideration of potentially negative impacts on wildlife. In both North America and Europe, grouse have been reported to be adversely affected by infrastructure associated with energy development, but studies differ regarding the kind and magnitude of effects. In the meta-analysis they present in this paper, LeBeau et al. have synthesized previous research evaluating the effects of energy infrastructure on grouse populations with focus on lek attendance, resource selection, and survival rates in relation. Their major result is that proximity to energy infrastructure, which is commonly used as a criterion in conservation planning, is not likely to consistently and reliably indicate effects on grouse behavior and demography.
Although the authors set out to include all grouse worldwide, studies that met the selection criteria of LeBeau et al. were all on north American prairie grouse species. This is a pity, because in Europe, where grouse are rapidly declining, the current boost towards development of renewable energy infrastructure such as wind parks is seen as a major threat to remnant populations. Nevertheless, the insights from LeBeau et al. will be helpful to inform future conservation actions beyond the North American prairies.