International Wildlife Consultants Ltd

Carmarthen, United Kingdom

International Wildlife Consultants Ltd

Carmarthen, United Kingdom
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Dixon A.,International Wildlife Consultants Ltd. | Rahman M.L.,International Wildlife Consultants Ltd. | Galtbalt B.,Wildlife Science and Conservation Center | Gunga A.,Wildlife Science and Conservation Center | And 2 more authors.
Journal for Nature Conservation | Year: 2017

Avian electrocution at power lines is a well-documented phenomenon, yet factors influencing the frequency of electrocution events and the efficacy of mitigation techniques remain relatively under-reported. During May-July, we surveyed a 56 km long 15 kV electricity distribution line running across open steppe in Mongolia recording electrocuted birds of prey under the power poles. We recorded high rates of electrocution of several Threatened raptor species, particularly the Endangered Saker Falcon Falco cherrug, which was killed at a monthly rate of 1.6 birds per 10 km during the period of our study. Electrocution frequency at line poles was associated with density of small mammal holes and the deployment of mitigation measures. It is likely that local prey abundance influences the frequency of birds of prey perching on power poles, which is consequently reflected in electrocution rate. We evaluated the efficacy of mitigation measures and found that the use of perch deflector spikes on the crossarms of line poles reduced electrocution rates when 3 or 4 spikes were deployed. Perch deflectors probably worked by reducing the opportunity for birds to perch adjacent to pin insulators rather than by reducing the frequency of birds perching on the crossarm per se. At anchor poles, reconfiguration of jump wires at two phases, so they passed under the crossarm rather than over, significantly reduced electrocution rates. These mitigation measures potentially represent a relatively inexpensive method to reduce the frequency of raptor electrocution events in regions where cost is a key factor for power line managers in determining whether or not any form of mitigation is used. © 2017 Elsevier GmbH

Dixon A.,International Wildlife Consultants Ltd. | Maming R.,Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography | Gunga A.,Wildlife Science and Conservation Center | Purev-Ochir G.,Wildlife Science and Conservation Center | Batbayar N.,Wildlife Science and Conservation Center
Bird Conservation International | Year: 2013

We report a large number of raptors electrocuted on recently erected electricity distribution lines in the open landscapes of the Mongolian steppe and Qinghai-Tibetan plateau, China. Upland Buzzards Buteo hemilasius and Saker Falcons Falco cherrug, characteristic raptors of these bioregions, were among those found to be electrocuted. Raptor electrocution was a consequence of poorly designed hardware configurations on anchor poles along surveyed lines on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau and, additionally, on line poles in the Mongolian steppe. The design flaws were upright pin-insulators on earthed crossarms and the use of jump wires that passed over crossarms via pin insulators on anchor poles. Targeted mitigation of anchor poles could significantly reduce the incidence of electrocution on the lines surveyed on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau, whilst all poles on the lines surveyed in the Mongolian steppe require remediation to make them safe for raptors. The Mongolian steppe and the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau are bioregions that hold the largest breeding and wintering populations of the globally threatened Saker Falcon. The existing and growing network of dangerous electricity distribution lines in these regions may potentially impact the Saker Falcon population, thus we suggest that preventative and/or mitigation measures are implemented. © BirdLife International 2013.

Wang J.,Copenhagen University | Wang J.,King Abdulaziz University | Bruford M.W.,University of Cardiff | Zhan X.,University of Cardiff | And 21 more authors.
Nature Genetics | Year: 2013

As top predators, falcons possess unique morphological, physiological and behavioral adaptations that allow them to be successful hunters: for example, the peregrine is renowned as the world's fastest animal. To examine the evolutionary basis of predatory adaptations, we sequenced the genomes of both the peregrine (Falco peregrinus) and saker falcon (Falco cherrug), and we present parallel, genome-wide evidence for evolutionary innovation and selection for a predatory lifestyle. The genomes, assembled using Illumina deep sequencing with greater than 100-fold coverage, are both approximately 1.2 Gb in length, with transcriptome-assisted prediction of approximately 16,200 genes for both species. Analysis of 8,424 orthologs in both falcons, chicken, zebra finch and turkey identified consistent evidence for genome-wide rapid evolution in these raptors. SNP-based inference showed contrasting recent demographic trajectories for the two falcons, and gene-based analysis highlighted falcon-specific evolutionary novelties for beak development and olfaction and specifically for homeostasis-related genes in the arid environment-adapted saker. © 2013 Nature America, Inc. All rights reserved.

Rahman M.L.,International Wildlife Consultants Ltd. | Batbayar N.,Wildlife Science and Conservation Center | Purev-Ochir G.,Wildlife Science and Conservation Center | Etheridge M.,Aberystwyth University | Dixon A.,International Wildlife Consultants Ltd.
Ardeola | Year: 2015

We used patagial tags, VHF radio transmitters, and satellite-received transmitters to investigate the movements and survival of juvenile saker falcons fledged from artificial nests in open landscapes and natural nest sites in hilly areas in Mongolia. During the post-fledging dependence period (PFDP) juveniles progressively moved farther from their nest until dispersal from the natal area. natal home ranges were larger for juveniles fledged at artificial than natural sites and the distance moved by juveniles during PFDP was positively related to fledging date and brood size. Duration of the PFDP was estimated as 40 days (range: 31-52 days). Over the PFDP, the best-fitting model to explain juvenile survival incorporated fledging date and nest site type, with juvenile survival being higher in early fledged broods from natural sites. Predation was identified as a major cause of mortality, especially in open landscapes where artificial nests were located. however, because artificial nests produced more fledglings, we found that overall productivity of juveniles to dispersal at artificial and natural nests sites did not differ significantly.

Rahman M.L.,International Wildlife Consultants Ltd | Purev-Ochir G.,Wildlife Science and Conservation Center | Etheridge M.,Wildlife Science and Conservation Center | Etheridge M.,Aberystwyth University | And 2 more authors.
Journal of Ornithology | Year: 2014

Artificial nests are a commonly used management technique to increase the breeding population and/or productivity of birds with nest site limited populations. We compared nest survival of saker falcons breeding in artificial nests erected in a flat steppe landscape with those breeding in natural nests on rocks and cliffs in adjacent hills of central Mongolia. We found no significant difference in daily nest survival during the egg and nestling stages of the breeding cycle. Nest survival varied across years and was higher at artificial than natural nest sites, primarily because of higher survival rates during the egg stage at artificial nests. However, fledgling productivity was not significantly different although artificial nests produced an average of 3.2 fledglings compared to 2.3 at natural nest sites. We found no significant differences in offspring sex ratios and fledgling mass at artificial and natural nest sites. Provision of artificial nests can increase the range, size and productivity of saker falcon breeding populations, a globally endangered species subject to high mortality and trapping for falconry. This management technique can be used for incentive-driven conservation initiatives, whereby sustainable harvest quotas can be generated from demographic models based on parameters derived from a managed and monitored population breeding in artificial nests. © 2014 Dt. Ornithologen-Gesellschaft e.V.

Dixon A.,International Wildlife Consultants Ltd. | Purev-Ochir G.,Wildlife Science and Conservation Center | Galtbalt B.,Wildlife Science and Conservation Center | Batbayar N.,Wildlife Science and Conservation Center
Journal of Raptor Research | Year: 2013

The use of power line support structures as nesting sites enables some raptors and corvids to increase their breeding range and/or density in landscapes where alternative nest sites are limited. We report on the use of power poles for nesting by two nest-building species, Common Raven (Corvus corax) and Upland Buzzard (Buteo hemilasius), and two falcon species, Saker Falcon (Falco cherrug) and Eurasian Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus) in the nest-site-limited steppes of central Mongolia. Various power pole designs differed in their attractiveness to nest-building species, with structures that provided stable support and shelter being significantly favored. Trials of artificial nest barrels to (i) provide alternative nest sites on favored nesting support structures and (ii) provide additional nest sites on unfavored support structures, failed to induce nest-building species to shift their nest location in the first instance or to increase overall breeding density of large raptors and corvids in the second case. However, both trials resulted in large increases in the number of nesting Eurasian Kestrels. © 2013 The Raptor Research Foundation, Inc.

Rahman M.L.,University of Northampton | Rahman M.L.,International Wildlife Consultants Ltd. | Tarrant S.,University of Northampton | McCollin D.,University of Northampton | Ollerton J.,University of Northampton
Journal for Nature Conservation | Year: 2013

Biodiversity conservation through restoring degraded habitats or creating new habitats is advocated in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan. Restored grasslands on capped landfill sites are semi-natural habitats that could potentially support a wide range of plant communities. However, it is unknown whether these re-created habitats represent a significant resource in terms of biodiversity conservation. The UK National Vegetation Classification (NVC) was used to study these communities on nine restored capped landfill sites together with paired reference sites in the East Midlands region of the UK during 2007. Plant species data were collected by random quadrats along two 100. m transects from each site. The effects of restoration were investigated by examining plant attributes and Ellenberg indicators on restored landfill sites in comparison to paired reference sites. A total of 170 plant species were found from both sets of sites. There were no significant differences for most of the plant attributes between restored landfill sites and reference sites, though reference sites had significantly higher mean frequencies of native plants, nationally decreasing species and perennial species. In total 26 broad NVC community types were identified of which more than 70% fell within mesotrophic grassland (MG). The diversity of NVC communities confirms that underlying environmental factors such as soil fertility are important, dictating the type of plant communities that exist. It is recommended that management of these capped landfill sites should be targeted towards specific NVC community types to meet conservation targets. © 2013 Elsevier GmbH.

Ragyov D.,Bulgarian Academy of Science | Biserkov V.,Bulgarian Academy of Science | Gradev G.,Green Balkans Federation NGOs | Ivanov I.,Green Balkans Federation NGOs | And 4 more authors.
Acta Zoologica Bulgarica | Year: 2014

Evidence for the presence of sakers in Bulgaria dates from 1500-3000 years ago. The first documented records of breeding sakers go back to the 13thcentury. We collected 337 breeding records of sakers in Bulgaria (1860-2013), comprising 176 locations (52 Confirmed, 16 Probable and 108 Possible). Our study suggests that in the 19thcentury the species was scarce and/or localised in its distribution range, with a declining population. The decline has continued through 20thand 21stCenturies. Recently, 94% of the total number of the known breeding locations were surveyed (N=165; including all Probable and Confirmed locations and 90% of the Possible locations). The survey covered 31,000 km2(c. 28% of Bulgarian territory) and revealed more than 33% of the known breeding populations of Long-legged Buzzard, Peregrine Falcon, Golden Eagle, Imperial Eagle and Egyptian Vulture. Only 3 sakers (single birds) were recorded in 2011, 2012 and 2013, with no further confirmation for the breeding. The last documented Confirmed breeding records were in 1997 (a successfully fledged young) and 1998 (the nest failed during the nestling period). The restoration of the saker breeding population requires an integrated approach, by operating at various scales from the landscape to the species level.

Sokolov V.,Russian Academy of Sciences | Lecomte N.,University of Tromsø | Lecomte N.,University of Moncton | Sokolov A.,Russian Academy of Sciences | And 2 more authors.
Polar Biology | Year: 2014

Many different ecological factors affecting the size, use, and spatial configuration of home ranges have been investigated, yet the chronology of the breeding cycle has been relatively under studied. Here, we studied peregrine falcons (Falco peregrinus) to describe variation in home range within and between breeding seasons in the Yamal peninsula, a region of the Russian Arctic with a high breeding density of peregrines. We used satellite telemetry to investigate variation in home range at different stages of the breeding cycle during three breeding seasons (2009–2011). We fitted Argos satellite transmitters to 10 breeding peregrines (nine females and one male) and two male fledglings. All breeding females showed fidelity to the region of the southwestern Yamal peninsula, but they were not necessarily faithful to their specific breeding ranges with 33 % dispersing to new ranges up to 40 km away. The population of peregrines in our study area was relatively synchronous in their breeding chronology, with clutches initiated in close synchrony in early June despite the birds arriving on their breeding ranges ca. 3 weeks earlier. The average home range size for breeding females was 98 km2 (95 % Maximum Convex Polygon). Over the breeding season, the home range area utilized by females increased in the late nestling period and again after the chicks fledged. Expansion of the home range coincided with changes in behavior associated with parental care, resulting in greater activity and more time spent away from the nest area when the female began hunting to provision nestlings and fledglings. © 2014, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.

Zhan X.J.,University of Cardiff | Dixon A.,International Wildlife Consultants Ltd. | Fox N.C.,International Wildlife Consultants Ltd. | Bruford M.W.,University of Cardiff
Animal Genetics | Year: 2012

A single nucleotide polymorphism (MC1R: c.376A>G) in the MC1R gene was found to be highly correlated with pigment phenotype in the Gyrfalcon. Homozygous genotypes c.376GG and c.376AA were found to dominate the extreme white and dark plumage types respectively, and heterozygotes occurred mainly in intermediate phenotypes. However, some heterozygotes were associated with extreme phenotypes, indicating that melanism/albinism might also involve other loci. © 2011 Stichting International Foundation for Animal Genetics.

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