Marcellus and Wildlife

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Transcript Marcellus and Wildlife

Effects of
Natural Gas
on Wildlife
Dr. Jerry Skinner
Keystone College
Who…"speaks for the trees, as the trees have no tongues“?
What are the impacts?
It depends……
– Land use-farmland of forest?
What are the impacts?
It depends……
– land use-farmland of forest?
– core forest is of special concern
• >300 ft from edge or opening
– number of wells and their placement
• depends on geology, proximity to pipelines and
water, and size of the gas drainage unit
The bottom line…the landscape will change.
Pad Site
• often 4-6 acres
• stabilized with compacted stone and
• created ponds
• roads and pipeline connections
Linear Openings:
Roads, Seismic Lines, and Pipelines
• some wildlife avoid roads-even deer
• forest-dependent salamanders are
impacted by both active and inactive roads
• encourage trespass by ATVs
• seismic lines 8 m wide became territorial
• lines 2-3 m wide were incorporated into
Linear Openings:
Roads, Seismic Lines, and Pipelines
– highways for invasive species:
Multiflora rose
Autumn olive
Garlic mustard
Garlic Mustard
• Allelopathic
• Aggressive
Japanese Knotweed/Bamboo
Japanese Barberry
Autumn Olive
• freshwater
• frac waters
• trap for
• attractor for
Some are Temporary
• Drilling is temporary
• Compressors stations are permanent
• Birds and amphibians communicate
vocally during breeding season
– along highways, birds wait until big trucks
have passed to sing
– low frequency sounds travel farther
– songbird diversity is 1.5x higher away from
noise (Baynbe, Habib, and Boutin 2008)
Ovenbirds had lower pairing success by compressors; younger males occupied sites
nearer to compressor stations. (Habib, Bayne, and Boutin 2007)
Habitat Fragmentation
Species Area Curve:
Bats on Caribbean Islands
Log of cumulative #
of species
Log of island size in square miles
Conclusion: Larger islands patches have more species.
Allegheny National Forest
Roads and Wildlife
• Forest dependent salamanders negatively
impacted by both active and inactive logging
roads (Semiltisch et al. 2007)
• Road traffic and location influence mortality rates
(Langen et al. 2009, Eigenbrod et al. 2008)
• 40-60% reduction in density of sage-brush
songbirds within 100 m of roads associated with
natural gas extraction (Ingelfinger and Anderson
Disturbance to Sensitive Habitats
When the ‘edge’ increases…
• the core “deep dark woods” decreases
• higher predation and nest parasitism
Increased Predation
Brown-headed Cowbird
The Winners: habitat generalists,
tolerant of distubance and people
American Crow, Common Raven, Blue Jay
The Losers: intolerant of
disturbance or habitat specialists
Northern Goshawk, Broad-winged Hawk
Poor Dispesral Abilities
Spotted Salamander, Northern Red
Salamander, Wood Frog
Area sensitive or forest interior birds
Scarlet Tanager, Blue-headed Vireo
Allegheny Woodrat, Timber
Timber Rattlesnake
• PA candidate species
– species of immediate concern
• responsibility species-may have 5% of
total world breeding population; PA is the
NE US stronghold
• strong correlation to Marcellus shale
• seismic testing can collapse dens
Impacts to Plants & Communities
• Pads
– Direct mortality & loss of ecological
– Fragmentation (more on this later)
– Invasive-on equipment or natural
– Won’t be restored to original
• Related Activities
Seismic survey
Access roads
Water use and disposal
Is there legal protection?
Pennsylvania Natural Diversity Inventory
Possible Outcomes of PNDI “Hits”
• No impact
• Recommend moving
the site
• Other mitigations
• Extensive survey for
species of special
concern (endangered,
threatened, etc.)
• Monitor impacts
PNDI Species of Interest
Northern Myotis
Silver-haired Bat
Indiana Bat
Eastern Small-footed Myotis
PNDI: Grassland Birds
-avoid activity during nesting season
Upland Sandpiper
Short-eared Owl
Northern Harrier/Marsh Hawk
Bald Eagle
• >200 nests in PA
• Keep well 1000
feet away
• Nests off-limits
for 3 years
Great Blue Heronry
• 0-600 feet-no
activity that alters
• 600-1000 feet-low
impact activity
• Nesting seasonFeb 15-Aug 15
Minimizing Impact
• Buffers around important features
• Encourage sanitization of equipment
• Encourage placement of sites, roads, etc.
by existing disturbances
• Monitor invasives pre/during/post
• Hand cut seismic routes
Reclamation of Disturbed Sites
• Revegetation guidelines
• Encourage use of
native species
• Require monitoring of
aggressive nonnatives
• Lessen potential of
invasives-plant a cover
State Gamelands and Forests
• In many cases the State does NOT own
mineral rights
• Owners may exercise their right of
removal but still must follow environmental
• PA laws favor the extractor over the
And what of the aquatic species?
Change is coming…
Change is here already…
What level is acceptable?