Vultures and Livestock: The Where, When, and Why of Visits to Farms
Department of Conservation Biology, Estación Biológica de Doñana (CSIC), C/Américo Vespucio 26, 41092 Sevilla, Spain
Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics, University of Amsterdam, Science Park 904, 1098 XH Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 15 October 2020
Revised: 11 November 2020
Accepted: 12 November 2020
Published: 16 November 2020
(This article belongs to the Section Birds
The abandonment of carcasses around livestock farms has been recently legalized in Europe. Since little is known about how vultures use this kind of resource, we aimed to determine the main drivers of vultures’ visits to farms. We evaluated the effects of characteristics of both birds and farms regarding the way that vultures visit farms thanks to data collected from 45 GPS-tagged Egyptian Vultures and most farms on Fuerteventura Island, Spain (318 farms with >94% of insular livestock). We found that farms were more visited when they were located close to highly predictable feeding places, when they had more available food, and during the vulture breeding season, whereas farms located close to roads and vultures’ breeding territories received fewer visits. Younger territorial birds visited a farm more frequently than older territorial ones, whereas older non-territorial individuals concentrated those visits on farms closer to their main centers of activity compared with younger ones. Our findings indicate that visits to farms were determined by their spatial distribution regarding bird activity centers, availability of carcasses, seasonality, and vulture characteristics. Hence, these factors should be considered in vulture conservation, avoiding very general solutions that ignore population structure and that could be not enough to protect the biodiversity.