Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Transhumance helps vulture conservation

24.09.2009
Researchers from the University of Segovia and the University of León have shown for the first time the close space-time relationship between the presence of the griffon vulture and transhumant sheep farming in mountain passes.

Transhumance has fallen in some parts of Spain by up to 80% over the past four years. The scientists say that traditional livestock farming practices are crucial for the preservation of mountain ecosystems.

European health regulations designed to control Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), or Mad Cow Disease, requires all cattle carcasses to be removed from fields, which has led to a significant scarcity of food for carrion birds in Spain, with various impacts on their conservation.

"However, in mountain areas with widespread livestock, it is impracticable to remove cattle carcasses. This is the case with transhumant farms during the periods that flocks spend in summer fields, a traditional practice that also provides an important trophic resource for vultures in the modern world", Pedro P. Olea, a researcher at the Business Institute of the University of Segovia, and Patricia Mateo-Tomás, a researcher at the University of León, tell SINC. This is the conclusion of a study they have recently had published in the journal Biological Conservation.

"Food resulting from transhumant farming activities in the Cantabrian mountain range could maintain up to 750 vultures over the period of almost six months that transhumant livestock graze the mountain passes", say the scientists.

The scientists focused on the upper part of the trophic chain, and linked transhumance to presence of the griffon vulture (Gyps fulvus), "a relationship that had not previously been studied in depth", they say.

The Cantabrian mountain chain, an exceptional case

The study, which includes data from 1989 up until the present day, contains 85 interviews with shepherds, and describes griffon vulture behaviour as follows: "They choose summer resting places in mountain passes most used by sheep, and respond quickly to any changes in the use of these passes by livestock". However, the biologists report that the number of vultures is more dependent on the number of head of cattle, given the large amount of food that each dead cow provides.

The presence of these summer resting spots, sometimes more than 12 km from the places where the vultures raise their young, is linked "to the presence of a predictable source of food because, despite the health regulations requiring dead cattle to be removed from fields, the terrain in these mountain passes means that 90% are left to the vultures", explain the researchers.

According to the scientists, the presence of transhumant cattle in the Cantabrian mountain range gives them between 1.5 and six times more food than that available to them from local livestock. "This livestock farming practice not only constitutes an important trophic resource for the griffon vulture, but possibly also for other occasional scavengers, such as the brown bear and the wolf", say Olea and Mateo-Tomás.

Transhumance was the foundation of the wool-based Spanish economy for centuries. The Cantabrian mountain range is one of its final strongholds. Up to 80% of the mountain passes traditionally occupied by transhumant livestock during the summer are now no longer in use. In addition, "there has been an 80% decline in the number of head of sheep over the past four years", say the biologists.

References:
Olea, Pedro P.; Mateo-Tomás, Patricia. "The role of traditional farming practices in ecosystem conservation: The case of transhumance and vultures" Biological Conservation 142(8): 1844-1853, agosto de 2009.

SINC | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.plataformasinc.es

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Safeguarding sustainability through forest certification mapping
27.06.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

nachricht Dune ecosystem modelling
26.06.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

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: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Touch Displays WAY-AX and WAY-DX by WayCon

27.06.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Drones that drive

27.06.2017 | Information Technology

Ultra-compact phase modulators based on graphene plasmons

27.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>