Action Synopsis: Bat Conservation About Actions

Deter bats from turbines using ultrasound

How is the evidence assessed?
  • Effectiveness
  • Certainty
  • Harms

Source countries

Key messages

  • Two studies evaluated the effects of deterring bats from wind turbines using ultrasound on bat populations. The two studies were in the USA.



  • Survival (1 study): One randomized, replicated, controlled study with a before-and-after trial in the second year in the USA found mixed results. In the first year of the study, 21-51% fewer bats were killed at turbines with an ultrasonic deterrent fitted than at control turbines, but in the second year, from 2% more to 64% fewer bats were killed at turbines with ultrasonic deterrents fitted.


  • Behaviour change (1 study): One paired sites study in the USA found significantly fewer bats flying near one of two wind turbines with an ultrasonic deterrent compared to turbines without.

About key messages

Key messages provide a descriptive index to studies we have found that test this intervention.

Studies are not directly comparable or of equal value. When making decisions based on this evidence, you should consider factors such as study size, study design, reported metrics and relevance of the study to your situation, rather than simply counting the number of studies that support a particular interpretation.

Supporting evidence from individual studies

  1. A paired sites study in 2007 on a wind farm in an agricultural area of New York, USA (Horn et al. 2008) found mixed effects on bat activity when an ultrasonic deterrent was used. Fewer bats were observed over 10 consecutive nights at a turbine with an ultrasonic deterrent fitted (average 13 bat passes/night) than at a matched control turbine without a deterrent (average 24 bat passes/night). No significant difference was found in bat activity when this was repeated with a second matched pair (average 10 bat passes/night at both). The deterrent broadcast random pulses of broadband ultrasound from 20–80 kHz, with a range of up to 20 m. For both trials, bat activity was observed simultaneously at treatment and control turbines for 3.6 h after sunset for 10 consecutive nights in August 2007 using thermal infrared imaging cameras.

    Study and other actions tested
  2. A randomized, replicated, controlled study in 2009–2010, with a before-and-after trial in the second year, at a wind farm in a forested area of Pennsylvania, USA (Arnett et al. 2013) found that an ultrasonic deterrent had mixed effects on bat mortality. In 2009, 21–51% fewer bats were killed per deterrent turbine (average 6 bats killed/turbine) than control turbine (average 9 bats killed/turbine). In the 2010 before-and-after trial, between 2% more and 64% fewer bats were killed at deterrent turbines than at control turbines when accounting for differences found between control and deterrent turbines in the ‘before’ trial. Six bat species were identified during carcass searches (see original paper for data for individual species). In 2009 and 2010, 10 randomly selected wind turbines were fitted with deterrent devices, and 15 randomly selected turbines without the device were used as controls. The deterrent emitted continuous ultrasonic broadband noise at 20–100 kHz, with a range of 5–10 m. In 2009, daily carcass searches were conducted in August–October. In 2010, the before-and-after trial was conducted with daily carcass searches in May–July before the deterrent was used, followed by daily searches in July–October with the deterrent active.

    Study and other actions tested
Please cite as:

Berthinussen, A., Richardson, O.C. & Altringham, J.D. (2020) Bat Conservation. Pages 65-135 in: W.J. Sutherland, L.V. Dicks, S.O. Petrovan & R.K. Smith (eds) What Works in Conservation 2020. Open Book Publishers, Cambridge, UK.


Where has this evidence come from?

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Bat Conservation

This Action forms part of the Action Synopsis:

Bat Conservation

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