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 Bioinvasion on the rise
15.02.2017 | Universität Konstanz

nachricht Litter Levels in the Depths of the Arctic are On the Rise
10.02.2017 | 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: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Positrons as a new tool for lithium ion battery research: Holes in the electrode

22.02.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

New insights into the information processing of motor neurons

22.02.2017 | Life Sciences

Healthy Hiking in Smart Socks

22.02.2017 | Innovative Products

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>