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Effects of machines on flying insect biomass.

Posted by cmegson on 27 Oct 2017 at 22:00 GMT

I'm old enough to remember the days of motor car driving from the 1950s onwards. Through many months of each year, in those days, flying insect deaths by the thousands, per kilometre per motor car, was inevitable. I have wondered over the decades whether any study had calculated the reduction in flying insect biomass wrought by motor vehicles over the number of kilometres travelled. And, if such studies have been done, whether or not the total loss of biomass was significant.

To those of us who remember such times, the fact that there is never a need these days to clean our car windscreens is evidence enough of the huge and most tragic decline in flying insect biomass and the food chain implications this must have had and continues to have.

My engineering background leads me to ask the question in respect of this study being carried out in Germany - which is the world's Mecca for wind turbines - could the flying insect 'killing-potential' of wind turbines have played any part in the reductions in flying insects observed?

The tip speed of wind turbine blades might be in the order of 80 m/s - as fast as a F1 car - and so the blade speed over much of the swept area of each turbine will be high enough to kill. Added to the danger posed by the blade speed are the high air speeds and volumes of air in the vortices continually shed from each blade. It would be reasonable to assume that any flying insect entering the 'zone of activity' of a wind turbine will have little chance of survival.

Would it be possible for the researchers to retrospectively correlate wind turbine locations to the study sites?

No competing interests declared.