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 Successful calculation of human and natural influence on cloud formation
04.11.2016 | Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main

nachricht Invasive Insects Cost the World Billions Per Year
04.10.2016 | University of Adelaide

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: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

NTU scientists build new ultrasound device using 3-D printing technology

07.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

The balancing act: An enzyme that links endocytosis to membrane recycling

07.12.2016 | Life Sciences

How to turn white fat brown

07.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>