May 16, 2021

Large scavengers prefer renatured areas



The recovery of the Mediterranean mountain attracts large scavengers, as a team of scientists have shown that the areas that have been renatured after the abandonment of human activities are very attractive for species such as the griffon vulture.

The study, whose conclusions have been published in the journal “Scientific Reports”, has analyzed over a year more than 120,000 locations thanks to the “GPS” that carry thirty copies of griffon vulture in the Sierra de Cazorla (Jaén).

The griffon vultures (Gyps fulvus) have in Spain one of their most important European shelters, and although for a good part of the twentieth century the population of this scavenger was depleted in the Iberian Peninsula, in recent decades it has recovered, reported today the Higher Council of Scientific Research.

However, it is a vulnerable species, since it depends to a large extent on both the activity of the human being and its management of the landscape and resources.

A work led by the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC), carried out within the framework of a project of the Andalusian Government and with the participation of the Miguel Hernández University, has served to demonstrate that the recovery processes of the Mediterranean mountain are a claim for birds like the griffon vulture.

The scientists examined the land use changes that had been experienced since 1956 in the areas they use to find food in order to characterize the scavenger habitat and study their movements.

“We did not know if the reduction of traditional agricultural and livestock practices determined changes in the search for food of these birds and if this varied in relation to the seasonality or sex of individuals,” explained Ainara Cortés Avizanda, co-author of the study and researcher of the Group of ecology and animal demography of the Mediterranean Institute of Advanced Studies (mixed center of the CSIC and the University of the Balearic Islands).

According to Paula Martín-Díaz, a researcher at the Doñana Biological Station and the Pablo de Olavide University, the study has shown that the areas that were being renatured, recovering the original Mediterranean vegetation, were more attractive to vultures, “probably because the availability of wild ungulate carrions, such as deer and wild boar, was higher than in other areas. ”

Renaturalization is an increasingly frequent process in Europe as a result of rural depopulation and changes in agricultural and livestock uses, and therefore, according to the researchers, “this finding is key to understanding more deeply the services that scavengers provide to the human being through the elimination of remains of monterias and cattle ”.

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