The Vulture Conservation Foundation’s staff and board members follow vulture research outputs very closely in order to inform current and future conservation strategies. Summaries of recent articles of interest will regularly be posted here for the interest of vulture conservationists, researchers and enthusiasts.

 

Sun

25

Oct

2020

Research review: study demonstrates how plastic ingestion by vultures may cause wider impacts

Black Vultures feeding in a rubbish dump/ illustrative (c) Katja Schulz/ Creative Commons
Black Vultures feeding in a rubbish dump/ illustrative (c) Katja Schulz/ Creative Commons
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Fri

11

Sep

2020

Research review: study finds no clear evidence that vultures spread microorganisms to humans and other species, but more likely reduce disease transmission

Griffon Vultures/illustrative (c) Pilar Oliva
Griffon Vultures/illustrative (c) Pilar Oliva
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Fri

28

Aug

2020

Research review: New study demonstrates prevalence of high lead contamination among raptors, especially scavengers, in Europe

Graphical abstract (Monclus et al. 2020)
Graphical abstract (Monclus et al. 2020)
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Wed

12

Aug

2020

Research review: Study shows that painting a single wind turbine blade black reduces bird collision

Wind turbine in the Smøla wind‐power plant with painted rotor blade (May et al., 2020)
Wind turbine in the Smøla wind‐power plant with painted rotor blade (May et al., 2020)
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Thu

30

Jul

2020

Evolution of the vulture populations in Sardinia

Griffon Vultures in Sardinia (c) LIFE Under Griffon Wings
Griffon Vultures in Sardinia (c) LIFE Under Griffon Wings
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Wed

29

Jul

2020

Research review: Nocturnal flights by Bearded Vultures detected for the first-time using GPS and accelerometer data

Bearded Vulture in flight (c) Pilar Oliva
Bearded Vulture in flight (c) Pilar Oliva
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Sun

19

Jul

2020

Research reveals that Andean condors flap wings just 1% of the time

Andean Condor © Bastian Gygli/ Wikimedia Commons
Andean Condor © Bastian Gygli/ Wikimedia Commons
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Tue

07

Jul

2020

Ecosystem service provision – what do vultures do for us and the environment?

Egyptian and Griffon Vulture (c) Pilar Oliva
Egyptian and Griffon Vulture (c) Pilar Oliva
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Fri

03

Jul

2020

Vulture Research Update: November 2019 - June 2020

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Thu

21

May

2020

Introducing a schematic sampling protocol for raptor biomonitoring to harmonize procedures across Europe

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Thu

30

Apr

2020

Research review: The first Pan-Africa study on Hooded Vultures evaluates their movements

Hooded Vultures (c) Jacob Bahar
Hooded Vultures (c) Jacob Bahar
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Fri

24

Apr

2020

Research review: new article demonstrates the value of research for effective vulture conservation

Cinereous Vulture (c) Hansruedi Weyrich
Cinereous Vulture (c) Hansruedi Weyrich
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Fri

10

Apr

2020

Research review: recent study describes the movements of Bearded Vultures in the Himalayas

Bearded Vulture in flight (c) Bruno Berthemy
Bearded Vulture in flight (c) Bruno Berthemy
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Tue

31

Mar

2020

Research review: Intensive monitoring reveals interesting parenting behaviours of Egyptian Vultures during the nesting cycle

Egyptian Vultures (c) Bruno Berthemy
Egyptian Vultures (c) Bruno Berthemy
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Sun

29

Mar

2020

Research review: New study illustrates how larger vulture species and older individuals are most dominant when competing at carcasses

Cinereous and Griffon Vultures (c) Bruno Berthemy
Cinereous and Griffon Vultures (c) Bruno Berthemy
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Sat

14

Mar

2020

Research review: A review of secondary pentobarbital poisoning in scavenging wildlife, companion animals and captive carnivores

Griffon Vulture feeding (c) Bruno Berthemy
Griffon Vulture feeding (c) Bruno Berthemy
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Fri

21

Feb

2020

Research review: New study demonstrates that human-modified landscapes increase mortality risk for Griffon Vultures

Griffon Vulture in flight (c) Oliver Burton
Griffon Vulture in flight (c) Oliver Burton
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Sat

25

Jan

2020

Research review: Technical-scientific order for the analysis of the diet of Egyptian Vulture (Neophron percnopterus) in the Douro Canyon

Egyptian Vulture (c) Pilar Oliva
Egyptian Vulture (c) Pilar Oliva
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Fri

17

Jan

2020

What duties do Egyptian Vulture pairs share during the breeding period?

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Wed

08

Jan

2020

Gulper, ripper and scrapper: anatomy of the neck in three species of vultures

Griffon Vulture & Cinereous Vulture (c) Bruno Berthemy, Hooded Vulture (c) Janette BM
Griffon Vulture & Cinereous Vulture (c) Bruno Berthemy, Hooded Vulture (c) Janette BM
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Thu

31

Oct

2019

Vulture Research Update: October 2019

Cinereous Vulture (c) Bruno Berthemy
Cinereous Vulture (c) Bruno Berthemy
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Mon

07

Oct

2019

An overview of the European Vulture Conference

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Wed

02

Oct

2019

Day 2 of the European Vulture Conference

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Tue

01

Oct

2019

Day 1 of the European Vulture Conference

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Wed

11

Sep

2019

New study reveals amazing flexibility of migration among Egyptian Vultures

Egyptian Vultures soar and glide from Europe to Africa and back every year (c) Bruno Berthemy
Egyptian Vultures soar and glide from Europe to Africa and back every year (c) Bruno Berthemy
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Tue

04

Jun

2019

Vulture Research Update: May 2019

Bearded Vulture (c) Hansruedi Weyrich
Bearded Vulture (c) Hansruedi Weyrich
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Thu

07

Feb

2019

New article calls for standardised methods for monitoring vultures

A Griffon Vulture marked and fitted with a GPS transmitter as part of the LIFE Re-Vultures project
A Griffon Vulture marked and fitted with a GPS transmitter as part of the LIFE Re-Vultures project
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Thu

06

Dec

2018

Vulture Research Update: October-November

In this research update we summarise articles on the status of the world’s raptor and vulture species; a global review of vulture and condor tracking studies; and two articles that use GPS tracking data to study the movement patterns of bearded and Egyptian vultures.  

  

State of the world's raptors: Distributions, threats, and conservation recommendations. McClure et al. 2018. Biological Conservation

 

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Thu

06

Sep

2018

Research summary for August

In this month’s research update we summarize articles on the wildlife poisoning in Greece; the breeding success of Egyptian vultures in Bulgaria; the prevalence of rodenticides in non-target predators and scavengers in Finland; and the role of bathing in restoring Cape vulture feather shape and strength.     

 

Animal mortality and illegal poison bait use in Greece. Ntemiri et al. 2018. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment.

 

This study analyses the use of poison baits to kill animals across Greece between 2000 and 2016, during which a total of 1015 poisoning incidents in rural areas that killed a minimum of 3248 animals were recorded. 

 

Avian scavenger species, especially vultures, were most frequently killed by secondary poisoning (30% of wildlife fatalities), while shepherd dogs accounted for 66.4% of domestic animal fatalities.  

 

Although in 58.7% of investigated cases the motives for poisoning were unknown, for the remaining cases multiple factors, often working in synergy, were the main reasons for poisoned bait use: control of predators (mainly foxes); retaliatory actions between stakeholders (e.g. hunters vs livestock farmers); and control of crop-damaging species. Conflicts between different stakeholders were the most common cause of poison use, for multiple complex reasons.

 

Although poisoned baits were often not found, toxicological analyses of poisoned animals revealed that a wide range of chemicals were used, including agricultural pesticides such as carbamates and organophosphates. Methomyl was the most common substance used, detected in 54.2% of analysed samples, and an increase in the use of potassium cyanide over the course of the study period was recorded.  

 

The majority (72 %) of incidents were recorded outside protected areas, with a concentration in the north of the country, probably due to the greater abundance of large predators, and on the island of Crete, possibly due to better monitoring procedures. 73.4 % of the cases were not reported to relevant authorities.

 

 

This thorough research demonstrates the prevalence of poisoning in Greece and the potential impact on wild and domestic animals. The authors call for an integrated and collaborative national anti-poisoning strategy, which the VCF’s recently-launched Balkan Anti-Poisoning Project will contribute to.

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Mon

23

Jul

2018

Vulture research update, June-July 2018

In this month’s research update we summarise research articles on wind farm impacts on migratory birds; a state-of-the-art detection system for reducing bird collisions with wind turbines; the first record of a tracked Egyptian vulture being hunted and traded in West Africa; and the potential negative impacts for scavengers as apex predator populations recover.     

 

Impact of wind farms on soaring bird populations at a migratory bottleneck. Martin et al. 2018. European Journal of Wildlife Research

 

The authors of this study examined monthly migratory soaring bird abundance in relation to long-term mortality rates at 21 wind farms located near the Strait of Gibraltar – the most important migratory bottleneck in Western Europe and also an important region for wind energy generation in Spain. A previous study by some of the same authors revealed that the collision rate of birds with wind turbines in this region was among the highest ever recorded for raptors, with griffon vultures being the most frequently killed species.  

 

Although monthly bird abundance was not directly related to the number of fatalities over the year, mortality rates peaked in the late summer and early autumn, coinciding with the peak autumn migration period. Griffon vultures were the most commonly killed species, with 416 recorded fatalities in the 9-year study period. A second mortality peak occurred in the breeding season, when a higher proportion of adult birds were killed. 

 

The authors suggest that the number of fatalities during autumn migration constitute only a small proportion (1%) of the total migrating population, and that most of the deaths are of juveniles; but that fatalities during the breeding season represent a substantial proportion (6%) of the local breeding population, with population-level impacts being likely at the local scale. [It is worth noting that the wind farms closest to the Strait, where mortalities of migrants might be expected to be higher, were not included in the analysis – Fig. 1 below]

 

Vultures are particularly susceptible to collisions with wind turbines due to their large size, limited manoeuvrability and tendency for wind farms to be located where they occur in high densities (often due to favourable topography and wind currents).  It is therefore essential that new methods for reducing bird collisions at wind farms are developed, as discussed in the next article.

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Sun

03

Jun

2018

Vulture research update, April-May 2018.

In this month’s research update we summarise articles on Egyptian vulture migration bottlenecks along the Eastern Flyway between Europe, the Middle East and Africa; the impacts of traffic on vulture feeding patterns in a natural park in Spain; and two articles that investigate the impacts of vultures feeding on human-derived waste at rubbish dumps in South America and Spain.     

 

Identifying critical migratory bottlenecks and high-use areas for an endangered migratory soaring bird across three continents. Buechley et al. 2018. Journal of Avian Biology

 

The authors of this study used remote-tracking technology to study the migration routes of 45 individual Egyptian vultures over a total of 75 complete migrations that traversed three continents along the Red Sea Flyway. The vultures were trapped and fitted with satellite transmitters in the Balkans (Bulgaria, Greece, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and Albania), the Middle East (Turkey and Armenia), and Africa (Ethiopia and Djibouti).

 

The vultures showed a high degree of individual variation in the duration (12 – 95 days) and distance (3,302 – 11,974 km) of their spring and autumn migrations, but the linear distance between start and end points was similar for immatures (3,289 km) and adults (3,332 km). Immatures, however, migrated less efficiently than adults, taking less direct routes and having to cover greater distances.

 

The most important migratory bottlenecks were located in the south-eastern Red Sea coast and the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait (Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Djibouti), the Suez Canal zone (Egypt), and the Gulf of Iskenderun (Turkey), as shown in the map below. Importantly, none of these areas were covered by protected areas and <13% of the high-use areas along the migration routes were protected. The authors provide clear guidelines to address these concerning gaps in the protected area network and conservation investment.

 

The VCF is working with multiple partners towards conserving Egyptian vultures and securing these migration routes via the Egyptian Vulture Flyway Action Plan, LIFE EuroSAP and LIFE Rupis

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Fri

27

Apr

2018

Update on Vulture Research

Latest vulture science analysed: Movements of Egyptian vultures in the Middle East and East Africa; the potential impacts of land use change on cinereous vulture occurrence in Spain; stakeholder perceptions of Egyptian vultures; a review of the contribution of predators and scavengers to human well-being; and an article on the association between lead toxicity and hunting activity in Botswana

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Thu

01

Mar

2018

New paper: Antibiotics found in carcasses left in vulture supplementary feeding sites in Portugal

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Wed

10

Jan

2018

Why do foraging Spanish vultures stop at the border with Portugal? Because of different sanitary policies!

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