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Raptor usurpers in neighboring habitats reshape the conventional wisdom
Date:8/3/2011

When we make plans that will change a natural environment whether it's building a new shopping mall or planting a new forest surveyors dutifully assess the environmental risks to plant and animal life in the region. But what's environmentally good for one area may be an environmental disaster for an adjacent one, a Tel Aviv University researcher cautions.

When displaced by these projects, indigenous species migrate to neighboring habitats, says Guilad Friedemann, a PhD student at TAU's Department of Zoology in the George S. Wise Faculty of Life Sciences. This has a significant impact on the species and resources that were already there. With a new species moving in and demanding its share of existing space and food, competition becomes fierce.

Based on a study of two raptor species in the Judean Foothills, the long-legged buzzard and the short-toed eagle, Friedemann has determined that human interference in natural habitats has a reach beyond the specific region under assessment. Pursued under the supervision of TAU's Prof. Yossi Leshem and Prof. Ido Izhaki from the University of Haifa, and in collaboration with the KKL-JNF, Smolar Vinnikov Foundation, NPA and Kfar Etzion Field School, this ongoing research has been published in the journal Biological Conservation.

A turf war revealed by GPS

When a species is forced from its habitat, it has to go somewhere and that has an effect on neighboring environments. The long-legged buzzard had always made its home in the open spaces of the Judean Mountains, explains Friedemann, using the mountain cliffs for nesting and hunting. But because environmentalists have been planting a new forest in the area in a process known as "afforestation," the buzzard needed to migrate elsewhere. They now make their nests in the trees of the Judean Foothills, threatening the nesting ground and food source of the short-toed eagle, its established inhabitants.

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Contact: George Hunka
ghunka@aftau.org
212-742-9070
American Friends of Tel Aviv University
Source:Eurekalert  

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