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Transporting Biodiversity Using Transmission Power Lines as Stepping-Stones

The most common ecological response to climate change is the shifts in species distribution ranges. Nevertheless, landscape fragmentation compromises the ability of limited dispersal species to move following these climate changes. Building connected environments that enable species to track climate changes is an ultimate goal for biodiversity conservation. An experiment was conducted to determine if electric power transmission lines could be transformed in a continental network of biodiversity reserves for small animals. The study analysed if the management of the habitat located inside the base of the transmission electric towers (providing refuge and planting seedlings of native shrub) allowed to increase local richness of target species (i.e., small mammals and some invertebrates' groups). The results confirmed that by modifying the base of the electric transmission towers density and diversity of several species of invertebrates and small mammals increased as well as number of birds and bird species, increasing local biodiversity. The study suggests that modifying the base of the electric towers would potentially facilitate the connection of fragmented populations. This idea would be easily applicable in any transmission line network anywhere around the world, making it possible for the first time to build up continental scale networks of connectivity. informacion[at]ebd.csic.es: Ferrer et al (2020) Transporting Biodiversity Using Transmission Power Lines as Stepping-Stones? Diversity 12(11): 439; https://doi.org/10.3390/d12110439

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https://www.mdpi.com/1424-2818/12/11/439
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Red mud as makeup in the Egyptian vultures

Red mud as makeup in the Egyptian vultures

It is well-established that plumage colours are important for avian visual communication and are used to signal social information. Yet, little is known about the ability of birds to modify the expression of plumage colours with exogenous materials after feather development, a phenomenon also known as avian cosmetics. The deliberate staining of feathers with red soil in a social signalling context has so far only been described in the Bearded vulture. Here, for the first time feather painting behaviour is described in the Egyptian vulture, another Old-World scavenger. Egyptian vultures are considered endangered worldwide, but 60 breeding pairs and a total population of about 300 individuals still occur on Fuerteventura (Canary Islands, Spain). Two bowls were presented to the birds visiting the main feeding station: one with red soil dissolved in water and one containing only water. A remarkable response was observed with 18 different birds painting themselves with red soil to different degrees and only one bird took a bath in the bowl containing water only. These observations of multiple birds taking mud baths in the wild are the first ever filmed. The exact function of this behaviour is not yet clear, as no evidence was found for a status signalling function as has been suggested for the behaviour in the Bearded vulture. However, little is still known about Egyptian vulture group dynamics and patterns of social relationship within their society and it is possible that the behaviour serves a different social function in this species. This work adds a new and unusual behaviour to the already impressive behavioural repertoire of Egyptian vultures and opens exciting new opportunities to test alternative hypotheses for the evolution of avian cosmetics or non-vocal communication in birds in general. informacion[at]ebd.csic.es: van Overveld et al (2017) Cosmetic coloration in Egyptian vultures: Mud bathing as a tool for social communication? Ecology doi:10.1002/ecy.1840


http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ecy.1840/full