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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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The functional connectivity network of wintering gulls links seven habitat types, acting ricefields as the central node

The functional connectivity network of wintering gulls links seven habitat types, acting ricefields as the central node

The lesser black-backed gull is now the second most abundant wintering waterbird in Andalusian wetlands. Many birds are fitted with GPS loggers on their breeding grounds in northern Europe, and using 42 tagged individuals we studied the connectivity network between different sites and habitats in Andalusia. Thirty seven principal sites (nodes) from seven different habitats (ricefields, landfills, natural lakes, reservoirs, fish ponds, coastal marshes and ports) were identified. By analysing nearly 6,000 gull flights, it was found that Doñana ricefields are the most important node in the network, but that 90% of flights are made between a wetland and a landfill. The 37 nodes are split into 10 functional units (modules) in which gulls tend to fly daily and up to 60 km between a wetland roost site, and a landfill feeding site. This network allows to predict how gulls contribute to seed dispersal, wetland eutrophication, and the spread of pathogens such as antibiotic resistant bacteria. informacion[at] Martín-Vélez et al (2019) Functional connectivity network between terrestrial and aquatic habitats by a generalist waterbird, and implications for biovectoring. Science Total Environm 107: 135886 DOI 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.135886