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WildSNaP: Wildlife in Solar through Native Planting


WildSNaP is a research project investigating wildlife communities in solar facilities that is led by the University of Arkansas and funded by the US Department of Energy's Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO). The project aims to:

  1. Compare wildlife occupancy and species richness in solar arrays to habitats that would typically be converted to solar in Arkansas and surrounding regions

  2. Determine site, management, and landscape attributes associated with increased biodiversity within solar arrays

  3. Engage diverse stakeholder groups to enhance the value of solar arrays as wildlife habitat across the south-central US


WildSNaP News



With the rapid expansion of solar energy across the U.S., it is vital for solar operations to provide positive ecological value by maximizing biodiversity within arrays; yet our knowledge of how solar installations serve as wildlife habitat is currently lacking. Restoration of native grassland vegetation within solar facilities (Native Solar) has begun to gain momentum as an environmentally friendly alternative to conventional gravel or turfgrass management, but few studies have rigorously examined wildlife assemblages within solar arrays across a spectrum of management regimes. Additionally, previous research on wildlife use of solar arrays has often focused on a narrow range of taxa, with limited spatial replication, making it difficult to disentangle effects of vegetation management from those related to other site or landscape characteristics.



                       Study Design and Methods
WildSNaP is a large-scale, spatially replicated study of factors influencing use of solar arrays by a broad spectrum of wildlife taxa across a large number of sites in Arkansas and surrounding regions. We are sampling across a large number of solar sites, including sites under native vegetation management and traditional mown grass or gravel management. Each site has a nearby paired agricultural control sites (hayfield, cattle pasture, row crop) chosen to be typical of pre-installation conditions.

Our wildlife surveys target a wide breadth of taxonomic groups (birds, bats, terrestrial mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and pollinators) and follow a multi-taxa community occupancy approach, allowing us to compare wildlife occupancy and species richness between Native Solar, traditional solar, and comparison agricultural sites, as well as evaluate of species-specific, taxonomic group-specific, and ecological guild-specific responses to site, management, and landscape covariates.


  • University of Arkansas: Erica Westerman, Jennifer Ogle

  • USGS Arkansas Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit:          Brett DeGregorio, Caleb Roberts

  • Arkansas Game and Fish Commission

  • Comprehensive Botanical Services

Field Crew and Students:

  • Ethan Royal (Post-doc)
  • Ben Stratton (PhD student)
  • Michael Ferrara (MS student)
  • Brittany Wassas (Field Tech)
  • Brittany Booth (Botany Tech)

Solar Partners


Common Gartersnake

(Thamnophis sirtalis)

Exciting Recent Finds at Solar Facilities in Arkansas and Kansas

The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office supports early-stage research and development to improve the affordability, reliability, and domestic benefit of solar technologies on the grid. Learn more at
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