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Human footprint and vulture mortality

Events of non-natural mortality in human-dominated landscapes are especially challenging for populations of large vertebrates with K strategies. Among birds, vultures are one of the most threatened groups experiencing sharp population declines due to non-natural mortality. Factors causing non-natural mortality are usually studied separately. However, the potential use of an integrated index able to predict large-scale mortality risks of avian scavengers could be especially useful for planning conservation strategies. Here, the Human Footprint index was used to examine the impact of landscape anthropization on the survival rates of 66 GPS-tagged adult Eurasian griffon vultures (Gyps fulvus) in two Spanish regions. Foraging in more anthropized areas resulted in a significantly higher individual mortality risk mainly due to collisions with vehicles, poisonings, electrocutions and fatalities with wind turbines. Mean yearly survival rates were estimated at 0.817 and 0.968 for individuals from the more and less anthropized regions, respectively. Additional research should investigate whether some vulture populations could be acting as sinks unnoticed due to metapopulation dynamics. From a broader point of view, this study shows that a straightforward Human Footprint was a useful index to predict the survival of top scavengers and can be highly applicable to planning large-scale conservation measures. informacion[at] Arrondo et al (2020) Landscape anthropization shapes the survival of a top avian scavenger. Biodivers Conserv.
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Assessing apple snail effects on ecosystem services in Europe

Assessing apple snail effects on ecosystem services in Europe

The assessment of the risk posed by invasive alien species (IAS) to the environment is a component of increasing importance for Pest Risk Analysis. Standardized and comprehensive procedures to assess their impacts on ecosystem services have been developed only recently. The invasive apple snails (Pomacea canaliculata and P. maculata) are used as a case study to demonstrate the application of an innovative procedure assessing the potential impact of these species on shallow freshwater ecosystems with aquatic macrophytes in Europe. The apple snail recently established in the Ebro delta in Spain resulting in a serious threat to rice production and wetlands, having also a high risk to spread to other European wetlands. Here, the population abundance of apple snails is regarded as the main driver of ecosystem change. The effects of ecosystem resistance, resilience and pest management on snail population abundance are estimated for the short (5 years) and the long (30 years) term. Expert judgment was used to evaluate the impacts on selected ecosystem services in a worst case scenario. This study shows that the combined effects of apple snails are estimated to have profound effects on the ecosystem services provided by these ecosystems in Europe. This case study illustrates that quantitative estimates of environmental impacts from different IAS are feasible and useful for decision-makers and invasive species managers that have to balance costs of control efforts against environmental and economic impacts of invasive species. informacion[at] Gilioli et al (2017) Environmental risk assessment for invasive alien species: A case study of apple snails affecting ecosystem services in Europe. Environ Impact Assess Rev 65: 1–11 DOI 10.1016/j.eiar.2017.03.008