Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: New York
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

New York Project

Mechanisms of ecosystem response to solar energy development in the Mojave Desert

September 2021 - September 2026


Participating Agencies

  • BLM Nevada

Solar energy development is required to generate electricity from renewables and thereby mitigate climate change, yet our understanding of its interactions with ecosystems is lacking. Limited empirically backed insights into sustainable solar energy production can lead to biodiversity loss and diminishing ecosystem services. The Desert Southwest of the United States provides a globally premier case study of interactions between desert ecosystems and large solar facilities, and a proving ground for natural resource management in concert with energy development on federal land. Applied research that elucidates how solar energy development practices, including siting, site preparation, operations and maintenance, and eventually decommissioning, affect desert ecosystems can influence on the ground conservation and management of biodiversity and conservation-enabling solar facility designs. In partnership with the Bureau of Land Management, my research team is determining interactions among a large-scale, photovoltaic solar facility (Yellow Pine; 500 MW) and geodiversity, plants, and pollinators in the northern Mojave Desert, Nevada, USA. Our research will inform solar energy development decisions that reduce negative impacts of solar energy development on desert ecosystems and that promote ecosystem services. Our findings will be seamlessly integrated into realtime management made by the Bureau of Land Management regarding solar development on federal lands.