Here comes the sun: A study of insect ecology during Ohio’s solar power boom
Raef Khamis Ali Saif Al Hamedi, Grace Litavsky, Abbey Raison, Sarah Metz, Rianna Soltis, Stephanie Murray
As the world’s population and demand for energy continues to increase, we are also experiencing a rapid increase in renewable energy, such as solar power. Ohio is in the midst of a large solar boom, in which many solar fields are converted to something called “solar prairies.” The native, flowering vegetation in a solar prairie is meant to attract pollinators to boost the ecological value of the land. As solar prairies continue to surface in Ohio, we are still facing a large knowledge gap regarding (1) the effects of solar arrays on insects and (2) the best management practices for solar prairie vegetation. To help bridge this first knowledge gap, we are surveying insect communities at newly proposed solar sites before and after solar installation. Many of these proposed sites will be seeded as solar prairies during or following the installation process. Thus far, we have collected preliminary data at three proposed solar sites: two city managed lawns (WT and SW) and one field of goldenrod (MEEC). We collected insects using pitfall traps (n= 4 per site at WT and SW; 9 at MEEC), pan traps (n= 1 per site at WT and SW; 9 at MEEC), and sweepnets (n= 4 per site at WT and SW; 10 at MEEC). Insects were sorted to order level identification (e.g., bees are of the order Hymenoptera) and we used analyses of variance (ANOVA) and generalized linear models (GLM) to test for differences in insect communities between and within sites. We found insect abundance and diversity to be highest at MEEC, as expected due to flowering goldenrod. We expect a decrease immediately following construction and solar installation at all sites, but a rebound over time as plant diversity increases.
Primary Advisor's Department
Stander Symposium, College of Arts and Sciences
Institutional Learning Goals
"Here comes the sun: A study of insect ecology during Ohio’s solar power boom" (2023). Stander Symposium Projects. 3188.