Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Satellite telemetry tracks bearded vultures

16.01.2015

The Pyrenees are home to continental Europe's only wild population of bearded vultures, a species classified as endangered in Spain. A study compiled by Spanish researchers reveals - in a level of detail hitherto unseen - the size of the home range of this bird species using satellite tracking technologies.

Bearded vultures (Gypaetus barbatus) are one of the necrophagous birds most under threat in this country and are classified as an 'endangered' species in Spain as well as by the EU Birds Directive. Populations of these birds declined severely last century.


A bearded vulture was kitted out with a satellite transmitter and wing tags enabling long-distance monitoring.

Credit: Juan Antonio Gil (FCQ)

As Pascual López, co-author of a study published in the journal Ardeola, describing a new technology for tracking these birds, explains to SINC: "Since the late eighties the population has recovered considerably. As an example, in Aragon they have gone from 39 breeding units in 1994 to 86 in 2014."

A few decades ago, several pieces of research designed to find the size of this species' home range were carried out using these technologies.

"These methods consisted largely in tagging individuals' wings, enabling them to be tracked from a distance and individual birds to be recognised. Furthermore, there are radio signal tracking techniques collected in the field by a receiving antenna, which enable the position of the individual to be established by triangulation (radio-tracking)," López adds.

These studies had established that bearded vultures move across vast territories, although until now nobody knew the true area that these movements could cover, nor over which geographical areas the creatures moved.

Birds that do not leave the Pyrenees

In 1990, to answer these questions, the Foundation for the Conservation of Bearded Vultures launched a project tracking these birds using satellite technologies; the project lasted until 2006. "Nine birds of various ages were caught and marked in order to establish the relationship between supplementary feeding points - those traditionally known as 'rubbish tips' and specifically established sources of food throughout the Pyrenees - and these birds' movements," the researcher continues.

Thanks to this work the size of the species' home ranges in this country could be studied to an unprecedented degree of precision. The results show that (non-breeding) bearded vultures tracked by satellite telemetry did not leave the Pyrenees mountain range over the entire tracking period.

The home range of these birds spans an average 11,700 km2, with notable differences between individuals (from barely 1,800 km2 up to almost 23,000 km2 for the longest travellers).

"These areas were lower than described previously in other studies published on the species in South Africa, but slightly higher than those describes in the Pyrenees and the Alps using conventional techniques, which did not enable the area over which they move to be determined quite as accurately," López claims.

The importance of feeding areas

One of the most interesting results of the study is that all the individual birds tracked included supplementary feeding points - specific feeding areas as well as rubbish tips - in their areas of activity.

According to the expert, this finding "is especially pertinent from the point of view of conservation, as it proves once again that overlap between home ranges and predictable food sources - such as feeding areas - are crucial in order to increase survival and thus diminish the risk of the species becoming extinct in this country. It is particularly important for young, inexperienced birds and individuals belonging to the non-breeding population of the species."

Finally, this study proves that satellite telemetry is the best method available to the scientific community for better understanding the spatial ecology and behaviour of necrophagous birds, mainly vultures.

"It is a key type of work for the conservation of this group of species, which was threatened in this country due to a lack of food caused by policies proposed by the European Union to close feeding areas following the appearance of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (also known as 'mad cow disease') in 2000," López concludes.

###

References:

Gil, J.A., Báguena, G., Sánchez-Castilla, E., Antor, R.J., Alcántara, M., López-López, P. 2014. Home range and movements of non-breeding Bearded vultures tracked by satellite telemetry in the Pyrenees. Ardeola 61(2): 379-387. January 2015. (doi.10.13157/arla.61.2.2014.379)

SINC Press Office | EurekAlert!

Further reports about: Birds conservation individual birds satellite species techniques vultures

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Upcycling 'fast fashion' to reduce waste and pollution
03.04.2017 | American Chemical Society

nachricht Litter is present throughout the world’s oceans: 1,220 species affected
27.03.2017 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Fighting drug resistant tuberculosis – InfectoGnostics meets MYCO-NET² partners in Peru

28.04.2017 | Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Wireless power can drive tiny electronic devices in the GI tract

28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering

Ice cave in Transylvania yields window into region's past

28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis

28.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>