Kara Beth Gregory, Noah E. Jones-Beyene, Evelyn Rose Thomson, Claire Elizabeth Van Meter


Presentation: 9:00-10:15, Kennedy Union Ballroom



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Solar energy is one of the most promising forms of clean renewable energy, but there are still issues with land management around solar arrays. The introduction of prairies under solar arrays can significantly increase biodiversity in what would otherwise be a monocrop field of grass. Most solar arrays are surrounded by a fence, which can hinder animal movement. We sought to understand how animals interact with these solar prairies in arrays with and without fences. We investigated animal behavior using wildlife cameras at two different solar arrays in Dayton, OH, one at the Marianist Environmental Education Center (MEEC), and one at Curran Place on the University of Dayton Campus. We placed 10 camera traps at each site, 5 inside the array and 5 around the border. The cameras were baited twice with deer pheromone gel and either cat food (week 1) or wildlife pellets (week 2). Cameras were set to take 3 photos every 15 seconds of detected movement, and were running for two weeks. We found that the presence of a fence decreased species richness, as it hindered the ability of larger animals to enter the array. At MEEC, which has a fence, 3 species were found inside the array, and 7 were found outside. At Curran Place, which does not have a fence, 4 species were found inside and 7 outside. However, the difference in species diversity could be due to the lack of establishment of the prairie under MEEC, which was only recently established. We recommend that future solar arrays should avoid fencing when possible, and if there must be a fence, it should be raised above the ground to allow small animals to enter and exit as needed.

Publication Date


Project Designation

Course Project 202380 BIO 479L M1

Primary Advisor

Chelse M. Prather

Primary Advisor's Department



Stander Symposium, College of Arts and Sciences

Institutional Learning Goals

Critical Evaluation of Our Times; Community

Photographing Wildlife: Analysis of Species Richness and Activity in and around Solar Prairies