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

nsive field research, including the placement of advanced GPS systems on the adult nesting birds, Friedemann and his fellow researchers tracked the movements of both species throughout breeding season by tagging four buzzards and three eagles. They found 31 buzzard nests and 60 eagle nests in the Judean Foothills. The researchers continue to examine each nest twice a season, tracking the growth of new chicks and analyzing food remains to determine the extent of competition for food sources between the two raptor species.

The results, say Friedemann, will indicate that the buzzards have started to muscle in on the eagles' habitat taking over their nests and diminishing the common food supply of snakes, lizards and rodents. "Every time you have strong competition between two species, one is more successful," he explains. "There is a negative impact on the weaker species."

The next step, says Friedemann, is to extend research done with the GPS transmitters, and to assess the rising levels of aggression in both buzzards and eagles, which arise from the heightened competition for food and space. By playing recorded bird calls near nesting sites of the opposite species, the researchers can measure how aggressive the response becomes.

Living side-by-side

In this case, afforestation, usually considered a positive contribution to the sustainability of our environment, was the cause of habitat destruction. This should serve as a cautionary lesson for any project that serves to alter the natural environment, the researchers conclude.

"There needs to be a broader consideration not just of the directly affected area, but of neighboring areas as well especially if there is a species that will be forced to abandon the original area and seek out a new place to live," Friedemann says. In this instance, harm might have been avoided by setting aside a track of open space where the buzzards could continue to nest and hunt, a concl
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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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