Human–wildlife conflicts in the aerial habitat: Wind farms are just the beginning

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/Debate


The aerial habitat occupies an enormous three-dimensional space around Earth and is inhabited by trillions of animals. Humans have been encroaching on the aerial habitat since the time of the pyramids, but the last century ushered in unprecedented threats to aerial wildlife. Skyscrapers, jet-age transportation and recently huge wind turbines kill millions of flying animals annually and despite substantial efforts, our detection and mitigation capabilities are lagging far behind. Given the situation, our readiness to handle the impact of millions of drones buzzing through the sky carrying batteries, payloads and soon also people, is questionable at best. In radar aero-ecology, radars are used to document and analyse animal movement high above the ground, opening a hatch to ecological processes in the aerial habitat. Differentiating bats from birds, a simple task at ground level, was impossible aloft, which limited our ability to study and characterise high-altitude bat behaviour. Many high-altitude infrastructure developments around the world were thus planned and executed with no regard to possible impacts on bats and caused millions of bat fatalities. BATScan, the first automatic bat identifier for radar, demonstrates how artificial intelligence can be implemented together with ecological insight to solve basic scientific questions and minimise negative human impact on natural habitats. We demonstrate a facet of the complexity of bat aero-ecology using the Israeli BATScan database and substantiate the claim that activities taken by the wind energy industry to minimise bat mortality may prove limited and leave bats unprotected. We further discuss upcoming challenges in the face of a forthcoming transportation revolution that will change the human–aerial wildlife conflict from a conservation concern to a major human safety issue.

Original languageEnglish
JournalScience Progress
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2024.


  • Radar
  • UAV
  • aero-ecology
  • bats
  • conservation
  • drones
  • machine learning
  • wind energy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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